The railways' ambitious plan to run a double-decker train on the Mumbai-Goa route took a step closer to reality with the Central Railway getting a double-decker train two days ago for the trial run.
The rake is currently stabled at the Kalyan yard with officials preparing a detailed trial chart for it. The Mumbai-Goa route, with scores of tunnels in between, throws up a peculiar challenge for the double-decker rake whose dimensions are slightly bigger than conventional trains, said officials. A senior CR official said if all plans went as per schedule, the double-decker should be put for trial by the end of this week.
As reported earlier by dna, the double-decker project has been in limbo due to the inability of the railways to arrange a rake for the trials. The rake running between Bhopal and Indore was supposed to be brought in but it soon became a tug-of-war between the BJP-led Madhya Pradesh government and the Congress-controlled railway ministry.
For the railways, the double-decker between Mumbai and Goa – one of the country's busiest routes – could be a money-spinner. The view is that a double-decker train, with its enhanced capacity of 120 passengers per coach against the 60 to 70 in a normal coach, can really give the thriving bus sector a run for the money.
Despite 27 trains on the route, the passenger flow just doesn't seem to stem. During off-season, the number of buses between Mumbai and Goa are around 50 each way, which rises to around 90 during holiday seasons. Each of these buses carry around 45 to 50 passengers. The railway thinking is that a 12-coach double-decker would be able to carry 1,440 passengers, almost as good as 25 to 28 buses.
According to sources, the railway ministry is also keen on running a premium train between Mumbai and Goa, the kind which is doing roaring business between CST-Varanasi and CST-Gorakhpur.
"Who knows if all goes well, this double-decker could be the perfect premium train for the route. In that way the railways can ensure that it earns money and at the same time have limited services of the rake thereby preventing further congestion of the Mumbai-Goa route," said a senior railway official.