Wednesday, April 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India’s first train relives history
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 16
Acknowledging the spectacular reception accorded by hundreds of rail users to the special commemorative steam run between Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and Thane here on Tuesday afternoon, Union Railway Minister Nitish Kumar has given a nod to the Central Railway to exhibit the seven heritage coaches at Matunga coach repair workshop at Dadar for some time. The special run is aimed at reviving memories of this day in 1853 when the first train ever to run on the Indian soil rolled out and completed a 34 km journey from Boree Bunder to Tannah (CST to Thane).

General Manager, Central Railway, S.P.S Jain said here that the Railway Minister had agreed to their proposal to keep the coaches at the workshop to enable the public catch a glimpse of the train. He said the Central Railway will consider running the train on weekends to provide people the opportunity to experience the thrill of the 33.6 km journey. He said the four LHB coaches (imported from ALTHOSM, Germany) in the train would be dispatched to Delhi in a day or two. He said the schedule of the trains would have to be revised as the time of a superfast train clashes with the time of the train at 3.30 p.m.

Originally proposed to be a “one-time run”, the train carried 450 passengers, including Union Minister for Railways, Nitish Kumar, Minister of State for Railways, Digvijay Singh, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Information Technology, Pramod Mahajan, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Ram Naik, Union Minister for Shipping, Ved Prakash Goyal, Maharashtra Governor, P.C. Alexander, Chairman, Railway Board, I.I.M.S Rana, Arjuna award recipients and mediapersons.

As the two steam engines prepared to haul the train for an hour-long journey to Thane, crowds gathered in large numbers to catch a glimpse of the train, described by the Railway Minister as a unique blend of modernity and tradition. The train had a diesel engine for the return journey.

Speaking at a function organised at a platform at CST Mr Nitish Kumar said the wooden coaches had been put alongside ultra-modern coaches to recreate the magic- a symbolic amalgam of the old and the new.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan released a postal stamp to commemorate 150 glorious years of railways in India. Crowds waved at the privileged passengers.

A resident of Mumbai explained the enthusiasm as a manifestation of ‘Amchi Mumbai’ spirit — a sense of belonging to Mumbai and Mumbai suburban railways which ferry 62 lakh passengers everyday. “They are overjoyed that the Indian Railways has entered its 150th year,” he said.

Mr Jain said the Railway Minister travelled in a coach which was fourth from the engine. He said the heritage coaches have been spared by the National Rail Museum, Central Railway, the Eastern Railway, the Northern Railway, the Southern Railway and the Western Railway.

Divisional Railway Manager, Mumbai Division, Central Railway, Vivek Sahai said the heritage coaches have been refurbished. He said while the chairs have been retained, the decor including the curtains, carpets and seat covers have been changed. Refurbishing one coach has cost Rs 2 lakh. He said the heritage coaches have been furnished with wall paper, ornamental mirrors and curtains.

Mr Sandeep Silas, Director, Information and Publicity in the Railway Ministry, and convener of the apex organising committee constituted for the 150 year celebrations of Indian Railways, said his concept plan suggesting 38 items including hosting World Railway Games, release of a logo, illumination of railway buildings and application for world heritage status for Victoria Terminus, was approved by the Railway board in August last year.

The committee is chaired by Secretary, Railway Board and General Manager, Northern Railway, R.K. Singh.Back


First Jan Shatabdi flagged off
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 16
Union Railway Minister Nitish Kumar kept his promise of introducing the relatively affordable prototype of Shatabdi train by flagging off the first Jan Shatabdi linking the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus here with Madgaon today when the Indian Railways chugged into its 150th eventful year.

The train is the first among the 16 inter-city services (Jan Shatabdis) announced in the Railway Budget for 2002-03.

About 200 passengers are said to have boarded the train at the terminus at Kurla on its maiden journey. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Nitish Kumar said the introduction of the train would link the 150-year-old Central Railway with the recent and modern Konkan Railway. He said the coaches had been designed at Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, in record time. The design prevented penetration of sound and dust.

He said the non-AC chair car fare is 10 per cent more than the ordinary class. Besides, railway workshops and production units were encouraged to participate in a competition to present designs of coaches that would minimise the impact on the passenger in case of a collision. He said these features were being standardised and incorporated in coach manufacturing.

Minister of State for Railways Digvijay Singh, Chairman of the Railway Board I.I.M.S. Rana and Minister of State for Home Affairs, Maharashtra, Krupa Shankar were also present at the flagging-off function.

Mr Nitish Kumar said the Jan Shatabdi had all facilities of Shatabdi trains. He said the objective of starting a Jan Shatbadi was to provide second class passengers same facilities provided in Shatabdi trains. Every coach would also have a rail mart providing eatables which were not part of the meals served on the train.

In another welcome move, the Railway Minister said all new trains introduced henceforth would have four unreserved ordinary class compartments.

The Jan Shatabdi will run six days a week. From April 23, there will be no service from Madgaon on Tuesday and no service from Lokmanya Tilak Terminus on Wednesday. As per the schedule, the 2051 Dn will leave the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus at 5.35 am and reach Madgaon at 1.45 pm.

Barring a three-minute halt at Panvel, it will halt for two minutes each at Thane, Panvel, Chiplun, Ratnagiri, Kanakavali and Kudal. It has nine coaches, including six non-AC chair car, one AC chair car and two non-AC chair car-cum brake van. It has a passenger carrying capacity of 900.

General Manager of the Central Railway S.P.S. Jain told TNS that the fare for the non-AC chair car was Rs 272. The fare for the AC chair car is Rs 800.

Sources in the Central Railway said although the Konkan Kanya left at 6.10 am, it covered the 572 km journey between Mumbai and Madgaon in nine-and-a-half hours. They are optimistic that passengers will prefer the Jan Shatabdi as it will reduce the journey by an hour and a half.

Talking to mediapersons later, the Railway Minister said the expansion and development of the Kurla terminus would be taken up with the Maharashtra Government.

Later in the day, while presiding over the 47th Railway Week celebrations hosted outside Delhi for the first time, Mr Nitish Kumar said the perquisites of railway employees like passes should not be brought in the income tax net. He said he had taken up the matter with the Finance Ministry and was hopeful of a positive solution. He also allayed the fears of railway workers about possible privatisation of the Railways.

Such an assurance is significant as the Indian Railways with a work force of 15.4 lakh is the largest organisation in the world. The minister gave away awards to over a hundred railway employees for their outstanding contribution and services to the Railways.Back

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