LUCKNOW: Tejas Express, India’s first private semi-high speed train, was flagged off by Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath on the Lucknow-New Delhi route here on Friday.
Tejas Express is the first train of Indian Railways that will be fully run by its subsidiary Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
The Indian Railways has decided to hand over certain rakes for private operations as the national transporter seeks to increase its revenue. The commercial run of the train would start from Saturday onwards.
ALSO READ: Free rail travel insurance of Rs 25 lakh each for passengers on board Delhi-Lucknow Tejas Express
While flagging off the swanky train, Yogi proposed another semi-bullet train between Varanasi and Agra. The CM assured that the state government would bear the cost of the land and that it would soon take up the proposed project to the Ministry of Railways. Yogi also suggested similar trains to Allahabad and Gorakhpur also.
"We are constructing an expressway between Agra, Lucknow and Varanasi. Half of the work is over and the project will be completed next year," he said, suggesting that a semi-high speed train could also be run on this route.
He said that if the railway board takes any initiative on this, the state will bear the cost on the Agra-Varanasi route. Batting for an environment friendly public transport system, the Chief Minister said that it was the age of competition when healthy competition was imperative to improve infrastructural an logistical facilities for the people.
"When mobile phones were first introduced, the charges were astronomical but now every person has it. This happened due to healthy competition," he added.
The train is supposed to cut the travel time between the two cities to six hours 15 minutes from the six hours 40 minutes currently taken by Swarna Shatabdi, the fastest train on the route.
The Tejas Express (82501), on its commercial run on Saturday, will leave Lucknow at 6.10 am and reach New Delhi railway station at 12.25 pm.
On its return journey, the train (82502) will leave Delhi at 3.35 pm and reach Lucknow at 10.05 pm. The train will have only two halts Kanpur and Ghaziabad and will run on all days of the week, except Tuesday.
According to a senior official, if this experiment of handing over certain operations of Tejas Express to IRCTC is successful, the railways will make way for private operators to run a premium version of the Shatabdi Express category of air-conditioned chair-cars.
The Railway Board has already asked zonal railways to consider the feasibility of running private trains on 50 key routes, including Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Howrah.
The new train has several new features. In a first, Tejas passengers will be paid for any delay on an hourly basis. Also, each passenger will get free Rs 25 lakh insurance.
The Tejas Express ticket is priced at Rs 1,280 for AC chair car passengers and Rs 2,450 for executive chair car. However, due to dynamic pricing, the costliest Tejas ticket till now is Rs 4,325. The Swarna Shatabdi Express ticket costs Rs 970 for chair cars and Rs 1,935 for AC 1A. This train, too, has dynamic pricing.
Meanwhile, railway unions protested against the IRCTC's Tejas Express. The All India Railway Men's Federation (AIRF) said it is observing the day as 'virodh diwas' across the network against the first "private" train and the railway board's decision to give another 150 trains to the private sector.
Terming the launch of the Tejas express on Friday as a "black day", members of the railway unions carrying banners and shouting slogans gathered in front of the divisional railway manager's office here.
- Combo meals onboard—catering charges of Rs 185 for chair car and Rs 245 for executive chair car are included in the ticket prices—for the full length of the journey from Lucknow to Delhi. The maximum charge from New Delhi to Lucknow will be Rs 340 and Rs 385 respectively.
- Refreshments right after boarding. Tea or coffee (pre-mix kit) with cookies on chair car and premium cookies on executive class. Pre-packaged nimboo pani with cookies on chair car and flavoured lassi on executive class.
- The chair car fare between Delhi and Kanpur will be Rs 1,155 and for executive chair car it will be Rs 2,155.
- For breakfast, vegetarian combo of two pieces of vegetable cutlets with poha or two pieces of vegetable uttapam with vermicelli and coconut chutney. The other combo includes two pieces of medu vadas and suji upma and coconut chutney. For non-vegetarians masala omelette and sautéd vegetables onboard.
- All these combos will comprise additional cornflakes, sugar sachet and milk will be provided to executive class passengers. Additional items on order such as branded mishti or mango dahi, two pieces of brown bread, butter, tomato ketchup, branded fruit juice, tea or coffee kit, salt and pepper and mouth freshener.
- Just before the end of the journey, light refreshments like small masala samosa or branded cookies with tea or coffee premix; additional muffin or a slice of cake for those travelling in executive class.