Howrah Rajdhani Express
|Service type||Rajdhani Express|
|Locale||West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh & Delhi|
|First service||3 March 1969|
|Current operator(s)||Eastern Railways|
|Start||Howrah Junction (HWH)|
|Stops||Dhanbad (DHN), Parasnath (PNME), Gaya (GAYA), Mughalsarai (MGS), Allahabad Junction (ALD), Kanpur Central (CNB)|
|End||New Delhi (NDLS)|
|Distance travelled||1,447 km (899 mi)|
|Average journey time||16 hrs 55 mins (for 12302) , 17 hrs(for 12301)|
|Train number(s)||12301/12302; 12305/12306|
|Class(es)||AC 1st Class, AC 2 Tier, AC 3 Tier|
|Catering facilities||Available (included in the ticket)(IRCTC)|
|Observation facilities||Large Windows|
|Entertainment facilities||Onboard WiFi Service|
|Track gauge||1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in)|
|Operating speed||135 km/h (84 mph) maximum
92 km/h (57 mph), excluding halts
Howrah Rajdhani is the most prestigious Rajdhani class train in India which connects New Delhi to Howrah, Kolkata. The Howrah Rajdhani was the first Rajdhani Express in India, thereby becoming the first fully air-conditioned train in the country. The train is one of the fastest in India with an average speed of 88 km/h (55 mph). Howrah Rajdhani gets highest priority on Howrah-Delhi Grand Chord Line. It connects two big metropolis of India.
The Howrah Rajdhani Express began operations on March 3, 1969. The train departed from the New Delhi railway station to reach the Howrah Junction railway station in 17 hours 20 mins, covering a distance of 1,445 km (898 mi) .The express train reduced the travel time from Delhi to West Bengal from an earlier 24 hours to 17 hours. The Howrah Rajdhani is amongst few trains which are fully served by IRCTC, while others are Sealdah Duronto, Mumbai Rajdhani Express and Ahmedabad Rajdhani. Howrah Rajdhani is affectionally called the King by Railfans. Howrah Rajdhani is also the country's first and only WiFi enabled Rajdhani
The idea of introducing Rajdhani express as a set of superfast express trains met with consternation and criticism due to both political reasons and the fear of the proposed speed leap from the then maximum permissible speed of express trains of 100 km/h (62 mph) to 136 km/h (85 mph) for trial runs of the train. The planning team behind the idea of such express trains made proposals to the zonal railways whose territories the Rajdhani express would be crossing but was met with opposition. The team was however, able to materialise its plan. The civil aviation in India was back then at its inception which made it was necessary to introduce high speed railway connectivity between metropolitan cities to allow faster travel. The introduction of such fast passenger express trains in the country was an important step for the Indian Railways to take the railway network in India closer to the advanced and high speed railways around the world.
The Howrah Rajdhani express was introduced on March 1st, 1969. It was flagged-off from New Delhi at 5:30 pm IST for Howrah and arrived at the Howrah junction station at 10:50 am IST next morning. The New Delhi bound Rajdhani express departed from Howrah at 5:00 pm IST on March 3rd, 1969 and arrived at New Delhi at 10:20 am IST next morning. It was initially a bi-weekly train with coach composition as below:
Brake/Luggage/Generator, AC I, AC Pantry cum Lounge, AC Chair, AC Chair, AC Chair, AC Chair, Brake/Luggage/Generator
It was hauled by a single WDM-4 locomotive. It left Howrah on Wednesdays and Saturdays and left New Delhi on Mondays and Fridays. The booked speed for the train was 115 km/h (71 mph) while maximum permissible speed limit was 120 km/h (75 mph). At that time it was the only train allowed to run at such a speed. It covered a distance of 1,441 km (895 mi) in 17 hours 20 minutes. The ticket issued for the journey cost ₹280 (equivalent to ₹10,000 or US$160 in 2016) for AC First and ₹90 (equivalent to ₹3,300 or US$51 in 2016) for AC Chair Car. The train used to run via Grand Chord (Sitarampur - Mughalsarai via Gaya). It used to have no intermediate passenger stop, however it had technical halt at Gomoh, Mughalsarai and Kanpur Central for refilling of the overhead water tank and to replenish the on-board catering stores. Passengers could sit in the lounge next to pantry car and read magazines and play cards. Such recreational accessories were supplied free of cost in the lounge.
The AC equipment of each coach was of 'Stone Career Automatic System' which allowed electric heating to be automatically switched on during cold weather. The AC First coach used to have three cabins with each cabin containing four berths and three coupes and each coupe containing two berths. Each cabin and coupe had privacy curtains in addition to lockable doors, extra-wide windows, window curtain, carpets, sunk-in upper berth, night lamps and switch to coax a bell to summon the attendant as and when required.
The AC Chair Car coaches used to have accommodations for 71 passengers. Both AC First as well as AC Chair Car Coaches were provided with foot-operated wash basins. Many of these features do not resemble the standard features of modern Indian Railways Rolling Stocks.
Power was generated at the rate of 440V AC and was fed to each coach through interconnected coach couplers. There was also a 24V emergency lighting arrangement in each coach with the required power to be supplied from the storage batteries underneath in the event of a power failure.
In April 1971, the Northern Railway (NR) introduced a quota of 10 seats in the AC Chair Car of the train for Howrah-Kanpur passengers and 10 seats for Howrah-New Delhi passengers. Thus Kanpur also became a passenger stop for the Howrah Rajdhani Express. Eventually Mughalsarai was also turned into a passenger cum technical stop. Dhanbad was newly introduced as a passenger stop. The stoppage from Gomoh was removed.
In 1 November 1971, the maximum speed limit of Howrah Rajdhani Express was increased from 120 km/h (75 mph) to 130 km/h (81 mph). This also reduced the running time for the Up train by 30 minutes and Down train by 45 minutes.
- The departure and arrival time of the Up train were rescheduled as : HWH: 5:10 pm, NDLS: 10:00 am
- The departure and arrival time of the Down train were rescheduled as : NDLS: 6:10 pm, HWH: 10:45 am
Till May, 1972, Howrah Rajdhani used to be the only Rajdhani express in India. On 17 May 1972, New Delhi-Bombay Central Rajdhani express was introduced. Thus, for another two decades(1972-1992), Indian Railways would have two Rajdhani expresses dominating in the realm high speed long distance connectivity.
By August 1972, the frequency of Howrah Rajdhani had been increased and the train was making substantial profit to the range to ₹20,000 (equivalent to ₹630,000 or US$9,800 in 2016) to ₹30,000 (equivalent to ₹940,000 or US$15,000 in 2016) per trip.
Even though, Howrah-New Delhi trunk route via Grand-Chord had been fully electrified by 1976, Howrah Rajdhani used to be hauled by a WDM-4. These WDM-4s had superior bogie design which meant they could accelerate faster and brake at higher speeds. They were also rated at 130 km/h (81 mph), a little above other WDM-4 locomotives with a maximum permissible speed limit of 120 km/h (75 mph). Mughalsarai had workshop and maintenance facilities for these special WDM-4 locomotives which justified the 12 minutes halt of Howrah Rajdhani express at Mughalsarai. Sometimes the locomotive would also change here.
Indian Railways felt the necessity of introducing a new electric locomotive for Howrah Rajdhani express to promote higher speed economically, Howrah-New Delhi route having already been fully electrified. Thus, CLW received the commission of building the first WAP-1 locomotive in 1980 with a matching livery. But it was not until 1983 that the train would be hauled by WAP-1. The WAP-1 AC electric locomotive could haul 18 coaches of Rajdhani at a speed of 120 km/h (75 mph). By that time, the coaches of Howrah Rajdhani had been augmented with new AC 2 tier coaches being introduced. Usually a single WAP-1 loco from Ghaziabad shed would haul the train through late 1980s though occasionally twin WAP-1 could also be spotted. Later, WAP-2 locomotives were also used to pull the train sometimes. In 1986, the train got air-brakes. In the event of failure of the regular WAP-1 locomotive, a WAG-7 was used to haul the train as WAG-7 was at that time one of the rarer locomotives to be equipped with air-brakes. It was also the first train to be hauled by WAP-5 locomotive. In the early days of the WAP-5 locos, the train was hauled by WAP-1 locos on Tuesdays and Fridays (when it went through Patna) and dual WDM-2 locos hauled it from Mughalsarai onwards.
In 1992, RDSO/ICF develop high-capacity (250kVA) power cars for Howrah Rajdhani.
In 1993, AC-3 Tier coaches were introduced in Howrah Rajdhani via Main Line(Patna). Thus, Howrah Rajdhani would boast a coach combination of AC Chair Cars, AC 3-Tiers, AC 2-Tiers and AC First. It is regularly hauled by a WAP 7 locomotive of Howrah and Ghaziabad . Sometimes as an off link it is hauled by WAP 4 locomotive of Howrah. Based the popularity of the Howrah Rajdhani, the Sealdah Rajdhani Express was made functional. Sealdah is another railway station in Kolkata.
The trains have high priority on the Indian railway network and are fully air-conditioned. Passengers are provided with complimentary meals during the journey. Depending on the timing of the train, lunch, high tea, dinner, morning tea or breakfast are served. The trains offer three classes of accommodation: First Class AC with 2 or 4 berth lockable bedrooms, Second Class AC 2-tier with open system berths (bays of 4 berths + 2 berths on the side) but provided with curtains for privacy & reading lamps, Second Class AC 3-tier (bays of 6 berths + 2 berths on the side) with privacy curtains in some newer coaches. Interestingly, this Rajdhani boasts of the maximum number of AC 2-Tier coaches among any other train of Indian Railways, with 5 AC 2-tier coaches. Generally it has 2 First AC, 5 AC 2-Tiers, up to 10 AC 3-Tiers ( both of which may be increased according to demand), 2 AC Hot Buffet Cars (i.e. Pantry Cars) & 2 Luggage/Parcel cum Generator cum Brake van one of which is provided with the Guards' cabin.
It is hauled by a HOG WAP 7 of Ghaziabad or Howrah shed
The train is an important link between Kolkata and New Delhi. It runs near some of the most holy sites in India, including Allahabad, Gaya, and Parasnath. It also connects the financial capital of Uttar Pradesh, Kanpur, to Delhi and Kolkata.
- "Fastest trains in India". India.com.