Visakhapatnam – Secunderabad Duronto Express

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Visakhapatnam – Secunderabad Duronto Express
VisakhaDuronto.jpg
Overview
Service type Duronto Express
Locale Andhra Pradesh, Telengana
First service 12 July 2012
Current operator(s) South Central Railway
Route
Start Secunderabad Junction
End Visakhapatnam Junction
Distance travelled 701 km (436 mi)
Average journey time 9 hours, 30 minutes
Service frequency tri-weekly
Train number(s) 22203/22204
On-board services
Class(es) AC 1, 2, 3
Seating arrangements Yes
Sleeping arrangements Yes
Catering facilities No
Observation facilities Large windows
Baggage facilities Below the seats
Technical
Rolling stock 1
Track gauge Broad - 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in)
Operating speed 73 km/h
Route map
Godavari Express map.PNG

The Visakhapatnam - Secunderabad Duronto Express is a superfast AC express train of the Indian Railways, announced in 2011-12 Railway Budget by Mamata Banerjee, the then Minister of Indian Railways, connecting Secunderabad (SC) to Visakhapatnam (VSKP). It is the fastest way between the two cities and will consist of 18 coaches.[1] The budget originally proposed the German engineered Linke Holfmann Bush coaches, designed for an operating speed up to 160 km/h and tested up to 180 km/h. However, due to a shortage of these LHBs, the train old rake of a Rajdhani express train was vinyl wrapped and given the duronto look. On 30 June 2012, the Indian Railways announced that the train will be flagged of on 6 July.[2] However, it wasn't. The Hindu, later announced on 11 July, that the train would be first flagged off from Visakhapatnam on 12 July and it would enter full service from then.[3] This is the fastest train between the cities of Visakhapatnam and Secunderabad.

By July 2012, the train became adequately popular among the citizens and thus, it was sold out for the rest of the month. The train notably got overbooked on Sundays.[4] On its second journey between Visakhapatnam and Secunderabad, the train arrived only 15 minutes late, and thus performed much better than its first journey.[5] The train started losing fame only a month from inauguration. Passengers frequently complained about the poor quality of the journey and the discomfort experienced during the overnight ride. Critics claimed that this train is used only for speedy travel citing the easy availability of tickets as a reason.[6] From August 2012, the train started running with a Lallaguda based WAP 4 locomotive, against its original plan of WAP 7. The train was given the topmost priority in the early morning rush hour at Secunderabad Junction and was allowed into the station first, delaying other trains.[7] In September, that year, images of the coaches of the train went online, showing minor flaws in the vinyl wraps applied to the coaches giving it the duronto look. Bends at the doors of the coaches revealed the old Rajdhani livery which was another confirmation of the old coaches being used to run this train.[8]

History[edit]

Pre-Introduction[edit]

Unlike most trains in India, the introduction of this train was rather different. It was full of rumours and controversies. Around 15 months after the proposal of the train, there were rumours that the old coaches of a Rajdhani Express train would be used. Soon, The Hindu confirmed that the train will be given LHB rakes, as the classic ICF rakes would not be suitable to the speeds of the train.[9] On April 24m however, the old rake of the Bangalore Rajdhani Express was sent to Lallaguda a major overhaul and vinyl-wrapping. Critics said that it sounded more like "Old wine in a new bottle" as the rake sent to Lallaguda was well over 20 years old.[10] The Bharatiya Janata Party often criticised the Railway minister for neglecting the state of Andhra Pradesh. The introduction of the duronto itself was a result of such agitation. However, despite announcing the train in the railway budget, the train is yet to start. This resulted in the Party going on strike again and campaigning against the Ministry of Railways.[11] Soon, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) also joined the strike and burnt an effigy of the Union Minister of India stating their dissatisfaction regarding the neglect of the region. The Party stated the budget as a "letdown for Visakhapatnam" and claimed that "it was a reflection of the indifference of the Central Government towards Visakhapatnam".[12]

On 27 May, nearly five Air conditioned ICF coaches in Duronto livery were spotted outside Secunderabad Junction. They belonged to the South Central Railway but the windows of the AC II tier compartments had smaller windows, unlike most SCR trains that had large windows in all AC coaches. This made it clear that the rake being used really did belong to the decades old Bangalore Rajdhani express.[13] The Indian Railway finally delivered old coaches 18 months after the train was proposed. Critics claimed that the passengers would enjoy if they survived a ride in an old, dirty rake at an average speed of 74 kilometres per hour.[14] They claimed that the Indian Railway wasn't allotting LHB coaches on this route because the demand was so high that the train would be full despite how old the rake was.[15] The bitter truth, however, is that the Indian Railway has been lying all throughout. The LHB rake for the Bangalore Rajdhani was ready months ago. The rake procured for the Duronto need not be allotted to the Rajdhani. The fact is that the rake for this Duronto was never made at all. Critics claimed that this rake cannot run at speeds exceeding 110 kmph continuously and hence it would never meet the schedule.[16]

Post-Introduction[edit]

On 30 June, the Indian Railways, during a press conference at the Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad, the building housing the Zonal Headquarters Office of the South Central Railway, announced that the train will be officially flagged off on 6 July. The announcement was positively accepted by critics and was thereby, a success.[17] However, the train did not start on 6 July. The Indian railways announced the next day that the revised inaugural date would be announced later claiming that the delay was due to the non-availability of coaches. However, since a full rake was already spotted outside Secunderabad's railway station, it turned out that the launch was postponed due to non-availability of a VIP, who was supposed to flag-off the train. Critics claimed that "It’s high time that greater importance was given to the needs of passengers rather than satisfying those in power."[18] On 11 July, a well decorated empty rake of the train was sent on a test run to Visakhapatnam. It was considered to be its inaugural run, since that was the way the rake was decorated. However, all the decoration on the train was all for the journey the next day.[19] The train finally left Visakhapatnam towards Secunderabad on its maiden journey on 12 July 2012. The fares were then set as INR2150 (US$36) for first class, INR1195 (US$20) for second class and INR745 (US$12) for third class journey. There was a misconception that the fare also included a meal surcharge. Passengers claimed that the food was not being served though money was collected for that purpose.[20] However, it turned out that the cost of travel on this train was much less that the Godavari Express, a superfast express train travelling the same route. The air conditioner on the B7 coach stopped working on the very first journey due to a technical snag in the coach causing it to lose power. It was restored in around 45 minutes. The train arrived at Secunderabad the next morning, late by an hour and 45 minutes.[21]

Overview[edit]

The train will run non-stop between the two cities cover the distance of 701 km (436 mi) in 9 hours, 25 minutes. It is the fastest train between the two cities. The rake was originally proposed to have had 10 AC Three Tier Coaches, 4 AC Two Tier Coaches, 2 AC First Class and 2 EOG Cars making a total of 18 coaches, but it has only 9 AC Three Tier, 3 AC Two Tier and One AC First Class coaches making it only 15 coaches long.[22] The train has a technical stop at Vijayawada Junction, where the locomotive gets reversed and the water tanks in each coach of the train is refilled with water.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Duronto Express on tracks soon". CityofVizag.com. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "Secunderabad-Visakhapatnam Duronto will officially be flagged off on 6th July.". IndiaRailInfo.com. Retrieved 2 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Tri-weekly Duronto from tomorrow". The Hindu. Retrieved 12 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "This train is doing well now". Indiarailinfo.com. Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "Performing better". Indiarailinfo.com. Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "Secunderabad to Vizag by Duronto---The worst coaches.". Indiarailfino. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "Maintaining good timelines.". Indiarailinfo. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  8. ^ "Guess the train.". Indiarailinfo. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "Fastest train 'Duronto' is slow off the blocks". The Hindu. Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  10. ^ "Old rake allotted to Duronto Express". The Hindu. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  11. ^ "BJP protests against delay in introduction of Duronto Express". The Hindu. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  12. ^ "Railway budget a letdown, say parties". The Hindu. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  13. ^ "Spotted ICF Duronto coaches outside Secunderabad.". Indiarailinfo. Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  14. ^ "Enjoy if you survive.". Indiarailinfo. Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  15. ^ "Demand in this route". Indiarailinfo. Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  16. ^ "Its not that people reject.". Indiarailinfo. Retrieved 30 May 2012. 
  17. ^ "Great, finally on tracks.". IndiaRailInfo.com. Retrieved 2 July 2012. 
  18. ^ "‘Duronto' launch put off again". The Hindu. Retrieved 10 July 2012. 
  19. ^ "(IR)Twin tone HONKING WAP7 with 22204 Secunderabad Visakhapatnam AC Duronto". YouTube. Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  20. ^ "Duronto Express makes its maiden run from city". The Hindu. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  21. ^ "Maiden journey ( 12-Jul-2012)". Indiarailinfo.com. Retrieved 16 July 2012. 
  22. ^ "New tri-weekly Duronto express between Secunderabad-Vizag introduced". Business Line. Retrieved 12 July 2012.