Indian Railways to launch Operation Swarn makeover for Rajdhani, Shatabdi trains

After years of complaints by the travelling public, the premium trains are now set for a makeover. The Railway Ministry is to launch“Operation Swarn” to improve services in Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express trains.

  • Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express were started to move people who could afford to pay more for a somewhat luxurious travel. They are the premium trains in India. But after years of service, the trains have lost their sheen. The service has deteriorated, the cleanliness is missing, and quality of food has suffered. In the first phase, the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express and Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express have been selected for upgradation. Work will start from September 26. More trains will be identified in a phased manner.

Operation Swarn

  • Under the project, the Indian Railways will focus attention on 10 key areas — punctuality, cleanliness, linen, coach interiors, toilets, catering, staff behaviour, security, entertainment, housekeeping and regular feedback.
  • The plan will be upgraded in future with services 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.
  • Trolley service for catering, uniformed staff, and on-board entertainment are some of the changes slated to be introduced in Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains from October this year.
  • Aiming at enhancing the experience of passengers travelling by these premier trains, the Indian Railways has undertaken a complete makeover exercise in 30 trains — 15 Rajdhani and 15 Shatabdi — at an estimated cost of ₹ 25 crore.
  • Targeting the festive season which begins from October, railways have launched a three-month programme under Project Swarn (gold) to refurbish coach interiors, improving toilets and cleanliness in coaches.
  • The project also envisages strengthening of security system in trains with adequate escort personnel by RPF.
  • Rajdhani Express meant for Mumbai, Howrah, Patna, Ranchi and Bhubaneswar are among the 15 Rajdhani trains selected for service upgradation. Shatabdi trains of Howrah-Puri, New Delhi-Chandigarh, New Delhi-Kanpur, Howrah-Ranchi, Anand Vihar-Kathgodam are among the 15 trains selected for the makeover exercise.

Rajdhani Express:

  • Rajdhani Express, fully air-conditioned train was introduced in 1969 for providing fast transport (up to 140 km/h or 87 mph) from New Delhi to the capital cities of various states in India.
  • The first Rajdhani Express left New Delhi station for Howrah station to cover a distance of 1,445 km in 17 hours 20 mins.
  • 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, and AC 3-tier (bays of 6 berths + 2 berths on the side) without curtains.

Shatabdi Express:

  • The word “Shatabdi” means centenary in Sanskrit, Hindi and several Indian languages. Shatabdi trains are a series of fast passenger trains to connect Metro cities with other cities important for tourism, pilgrimage or business.
  • The Shatabdi Expresses get second highest priority, after Rajdhani Expresses which gets highest priority.
  • The first Shatabdi train was started in 1988 to commemorate the centenary of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru’s Birthday. It was flagged off by Madhav Rao Scindia, minister for railways.
  • Shatabdi Express trains offer fast connectivity with only a few intermediate stops. They are fully air-conditioned and of a much higher standard than most Indian trains.

Total cost of the makeover

  • Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains are among the fastest trains in India along with Tejas Express, Gatimaan Express and Duronto Express and get the highest priority on the Indian railway network.
  • The total number of Rajdhani Trains is 55 while the total number of Shatabdi trains is 52. So as per the report, the makeover of all these total 107 trains will be a total affair of Rs 5,35. 00000 crore as each of Rajdhani and Shatabdi train would get Rs 50 lakh.

Facilities after Upgradation:

  • The two trains will be upgraded with services 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.

The plan will first be put in motion for the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express and the Mumbai- Ahmedabad Shatabdi train. There are around 50 pairs of Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express train services run by Indian Railways. These trains would soon be on par with the newly launched Tejas Express.

Importance of Indian Railways

Indian Railways is the world’s eighth biggest employer and had 1.331 million employees at the end of 2015-16. Indian Railway provides the most important mode of public transport in India. This is the most commonly used and cost effective long distance transport system of the country. Indian Railway is operating by Ministry of Railways.

The various types of railways running within our country are:

  • Duronto Express: Duronto Express, the non-stop trains which eventually running faster than Rajdhani Express between state capitals & major cities.
  • Rajdhani Express: The Rajdhani Express, the full AC train which connects all major cities to our capital New Delhi. It is running at over 150 km per hour.
  • Shatabdi and Jan Shatabdi Express: These are only chair car trains which connect inter cities in the neighbouring states.
  • Garib Rath Express: These are trains which has AC 3 tier facilities at the lower cost in compare to different train in the same class.
  • Superfast Express: These trains are running more over 55 km per hours and have few stops in their travelling routes.
  • Express and Mail Train: These are common kinds of trains which have more stops than Express trains in India but have lower fare than it.
  • Fast Passenger and Passenger Train: These common trains have lowest fares and have sitting, sleeper class facilities. These trains stop at almost every station.
  • Suburban Trains: The Suburban trains are running in the major cities in India like Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai etc. These trains have only sitting facilities and fare starts at only Rs. 5.00. The Mumbai Suburban trains have 1st Class facilities.
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