The train made its inaugural run on 15 August 1900, which makes it one of the oldest running trains on Indian Railways. It was first hauled by steam engines, including the WP class engines, then by diesel, and now by electric WAP-4 locomotives. It was the first passenger train to be dieselised on South Eastern Railway, in 1964/65. Till the introduction of the Coromandal Express in the mid seventies, it was the main and fastest train link between Howrah and Chennai (then Madras) with much less number of halts. Presently, this train is the second most important train on the Howrah-Chennai main line after the high speed Coromandal Express. It covers 1661 kilometres at an average speed of 59 km/h.