NEW DELHI: India’s fastest train “Gatimaan Express” today made its debut run from Delhi to Agra in 100 minutes. At 11.51 am, the train reached its destination to applause and the click-click of multiple cameras.
While it did score a record, the train is just seven minutes faster than India’s fastest, the Shatabdi Express.
At a speed of 160 km per hour, the Gatimaan Express is the first “semi-high speed train” in the country. It aims to draw tourists who want to visit the Taj Mahal city on train without missing airline-style features like hostesses and an entertainment system.
Passengers were this morning welcomed with roses by hostesses as they boarded the gleaming royal blue-and-grey train at the Nizamuddin Railway station in south Delhi.
“It is a happy occasion for us. We want to increase the speed of all trains, whether ordinary or express, as part of our ‘raftar’ (speed) mission. It is not an easy task. It will take time but we have made a plan,” said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, who green-flagged the train.
The train offers two “executive class” coaches at Rs 1,500 a seat and eight AC chair car coaches for half that price, a high-power emergency braking system, an automatic fire alarm, a GPS-based passenger information system and sliding doors between coaches.
The menu is an eclectic mix – Spanish omelet, date walnut cake, wheat upma, Kanjeevaram idli, aloo kulcha, mini dosa, chicken rolls and Swiss rolls, served on chinaware.
The Gatimaan will run six days a week, except on Fridays when the Taj Mahal is shut.
The new train also offers free WiFi.
Hotspot devices have been installed at coaches to enable passengers to access multimedia services free of cost directly on their smartphones, tablets or laptops.
The government’s promise of a great ride was tested today when passengers like Ravi complained that the plug points weren’t working and there is no Wifi.
But many had good feedback. “Reaching 160 km is a great achievement for Indian railways. Hope they can keep up with it,” says Ashwin, a law student who took the day off to try the executive coach experience.
Nine more such trains will run across the country.