The Sealdah-New Delhi ‘Duronto’ express – India’s first point-to-point, non-stop train – has been flagged off from the Sealdah station in Kolkata.
The bi-weekly Duronto (‘Duronto’ more or less means ‘unbridled’) express will depart from Sealdah every Thursday and Sunday and will leave New Delhi every Friday and Monday.
The Duronto train, flagged off by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, will take one and a half hours less that what the Sealdah-Delhi Rajdhani Express train takes to run the distance.
According to Mamata Banerjee, the Sealdah-New Delhi Duronto will run at 130 kms/hour and the journey will take 16 hours and 30 minutes, as against the 18 hours that the Rajdhani express takes.
The next Duronto train, the Howrah- Mumbai Yuba Express, is “almost ready and we will soon have its inaugural run,” she said.
According to a railway official, the speed of Duronto trains will not be more than that of the Rajdhani trains, but Duronto takes less time since it has no commercial stoppages.
The Sealdah-Delhi Duronto has 3 operational stoppages – at Dhanbad, Kanpur and Mughalsarai, for technical reasons – compared to 6 operational plus commercial stoppages for the Sealdah-Delhi Rajdhani Express.
The Sealdah-New Delhi Duronto has a new air-conditioned, economy sleeper coach with 3-tiered side berth, compared to 2-tiered side berths in Rajdhani trains. The Duronto’s AC economy coach can accommodate 81 passengers, as against 72 passengers in the conventional AC 3-tiered side coaches.
The new AC economy class in the Duronto trains, the railway official added, is meant to provide more people with faster, AC-comfort travel at economic rates.
The ticket for Duronto’s air-conditioned economy sleeper coach costs Rs 1,335 – which is Rs 200 less than the Rajdhani train’s AC-coach fare of Rs 1,535. What is more, Duronto’s fare includes meals.
Passengers of Duronto will be served soup – instead of tea and light snacks – soon after the train leaves the Sealdah station at 6.40 p.m. Dinner starts from 7.30 pm.
The dinner menu for the passengers of AC-II, AC-III and AC-III Economic class comprises rice/paratha, dal, chicken/fish, vegetables as well as salad – and ice cream for dessert.
Like on the Rajdhani trains, AC-I passengers will have a variety of items to choose from.
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has announced that 13 more Duronto trains would be on the tracks soon.
While the Sealdah-New Delhi Duronto train has regular coaches with shells made of corten steel, the Chennai-Nizamuddin Duronto will have coaches made of stainless steel. The special stainless-steel bogies have air suspension systems that provide better passenger comfort. Besides, the light-weight stainless-steel shells helps the train run faster.
The inaugural journey of the Sealdah-New Delhi Duronto train, however, has had an unscheduled, unexpected stoppage – and for nearly 30 minutes at that – at Dankuni, about 20 kilometres from Kolkata. The reason: the train’s pantograph got entangled with a kite’s thread hanging from the overhead electric wires at Dankuni. (The pantograph is the gadget that receives electricity from the overhead lines for electric locomotive engines.)