The premium trains of India, Rajdhani and Shatabdi, are all set to undergo a makeover on a budget of Rs. 50 lakh each.
The Indian Railway Ministry is all set to launch Operation Swarn or ‘gold’ to refurbish its services to raise the quality of travel for passengers.
Why Operation Swarn?
Launched for travellers who could afford a luxurious journey, the recent years saw a barrage of complaints about services like delay in train arrival, sanitation and quality of food in these premium trains. The Railway Ministry has decided to take up the ambitious ‘Operation Swarn’ makeover project to address these concerns.
What does Operation Swarn entail?
- The Project will focus on 10 key areas, including punctuality, cleanliness, linen, coach interiors, toilets, catering, staff behaviour, security, entertainment, housekeeping and regular feedback.
- The work will start on September 26 and more trains will be identified in a phased manner.
- The first phase has zeroed-in on the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express and Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express for upgradation.
- An amount of Rs 50 lakh will be allotted to each Rajdhani and Shatabdi train on various routes for the revamp
- Two committees will be formed to monitor the work.
- The plan is reported to be upgraded with better facilities like Wi-Fi, infotainment screens (that were first provided in Tejas Express) and coffee vending machines.
- The modified trains will also have improved coach interiors, better furnishing and new comfortable seats.
What do premium trains currently offer?
Launched in 1969, the Rajdhani express is a fully air-conditioned train that provides fast transport (up to 140 km/h or 87 mph) from New Delhi to the capital cities of various states in India.
All Rajdhani Express trains offer three classes of accommodation:
– AC First Class with 2-berth and 4-berth lockable bedrooms
– AC 2-tier with open berths (bays of 4 berths + 2 berths on the other side of the corridor) with curtains for privacy
– AC 3-tier (bays of 6 berths + 2 berths on the side) without curtains.
– Shatabdi trains are a series of fast passenger trains that were launched to connect Metro cities with other cities.
– The Shatabdi Expresses ranks number two on the priority list after Rajdhani Expresses.
– Shatabdi Express trains offer fast connectivity with only a few intermediate stops. They are fully air-conditioned and are considered to have higher standards than most Indian trains.
Total cost involved in the makeover
The total number of Rajdhani Trains is 55 and Shatabdi trains is 52. The cost of renovating each train is Rs 50 lakh. So, the total cost of transforming 107 trains can amount to Rs. 53,50,00,000.
This year saw many railway projects, including the launch of the first high-speed premium train Tejas Express in May and a new series of fully air-conditioned express trains like Humsafar, Mahamana and Gatimaan for overnight travel.
The Tejas Express was initially designed to travel at 200 kmph but considering the track conditions in the Konkan region, the speed was limited to 130 kmph. It is loaded with features like LCD screen on every seat, improved interiors, coffee vending machines, automatic doors, fire repression system, bio-vacuum toilets, attendant call buttons, reading LED lights and free Wi-FI.
They also launched a new series of fully air-conditioned express trains like Humsafar, Mahamana and Gatimaan for overnight travel.
Humsafar Express is equipped with features like CCTV cameras, coffee vending machines, fire and smoke detection systems, new interiors with comfortable seats.
The Mahamana Express has special features like its ergonomically designed ladders for climbing to upper berths, snack tables for side berths, windows with powered venetian blinds and roller blinds, LED lights as berth indicators, LED reading lights, fire extinguishers in all coaches and an electrically operated chimney in the pantry car.