The Vande Bharat express train between Visakhapatnam and Secunderabad has become a ‘hit’, with an average occupancy of nearly 140%, a month after its maiden run from Secunderabad on January 15 and from Visakhapatnam on January 16. The semi-high-speed train has a maximum permissible speed of 130 km/h.
The train has received a tremendous response from passengers with the seats fully booked from day one, in both directions. Initially, there was a talk that the response was due to Sankranti and some even went to the extent of commenting that the seats on this train would go begging after the festival season. The steady patronage of the train has proved the critics wrong.
The train, which has four stops at Rajahmundry, Vijayawada, Khammam, and Warangal, runs six days a week except on Sundays. It covers the 699 km distance in just 7 hours and 55 minutes, at an average speed of 82 km/h as against Train No. 22203 Visakhapatnam-Secunderabad Duronto express, which takes 10 hrs and 15 mins, with two stops, and an average speed of 65 km/h and No. 12739 Visakhapatnam-Secunderabad Garib Rath, with 11 stops, which takes 11 hrs and 30 mins.
The average occupancy of No. 20833 in the CC (Chair Car) is 138% and Executive Chair Car (EC) 140% and that of No. 20834 is 139% and 142% respectively (factoring in re-occupation of seats in intermediate stations).
Divisional Railway Manager Anup Satpathy, who is instrumental in getting the VB express to Visakhapatnam, is elated over the overwhelming patronage to the train. “Catering is being done by the IRCTC and they are promptly responding to complaints,” the DRM tells The Hindu on the sporadic complaints on the food served on the train.
“Train No. 20833 is covering the 350 km distance from Visakhapatnam to Vijayawada in 3 hrs and 45 mins but for the remaining 349 km distance it is taking 4 hrs and 10 mins, and it seems to have been given slack time. If it can be speeded up to reduce the time by 30 mins the return train can be advanced to reach Visakhapatnam Junction by 11 p.m.,” says Daniel Joseph and Ravi Teja, rail users from the city.
“The success of VB express indicates the huge demand for trains in this route. The non-availability of berths on trains like Godavari, Duronto and LTT express is making people to opt for this train though they have to sit through the eight-hour journey. It is high time the long-distance express trains, being diverted via Duvvada and Simhachalam North, were rerouted through Visakhapatnam Junction,” says Ambati Sanni Babu, another rail user from the city.