Experts from Research Design Standards Organisation (RDSO), Central and Konkan Railways jointly conducted trial runs of a double-decker train on Tuesday-Wednesday to check if it could be deployed on the heavily-congested Mumbai-Goa route.
According to officials, the first two sets of trial runs were held between Roha & Madgaon, and Madgaon & Ratnagiri, respectively on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the train departed from Ratnagiri around 10:57am and reached Roha at 3:38pm.
"The section between Roha and Madgaon has 68 tunnels and the train managed to navigate the stretch satisfactorily. A report would now be prepared by the RDSO and submitted to the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Central Circle," said a CR official.
While railway officials refused to commit themselves on the possible slot for the train, certain officials said the general consensus was that it could be run in place of the Dadar-Madgaon Janshatabdi. This train currently leaves Dadar at 5:25am and reaches Madgaon at 2:10pm. On the return journey, it leaves Madgaon at 2:30pm and reaches Dadar at 11:05pm. The Janshatabdi makes the 571km distance in about 8 hours and 45 minutes.
Another thought process is that the double-decker could be run on select days as a premium train—with fluctuating fares—which would ensure higher returns and also keep the route from getting more congested.
For railways, the double-decker service on one of the country's busiest routes, could be a money-spinner. The service, with its enhanced capacity of 120 passengers per coach against the 60-70 in a normal coach, could really give the thriving bus sector a run for its money.
Despite there being 27 trains on the route, it doesn't seem to suffice. During off-season, the number of buses between Mumbai and Goa are around 50 each way, which rises to around 90 during the holiday seasons. Each of these buses carries 45-50 people. Railways believes a 12-coach double decker would be able to carry 1,440 passengers, almost as good as 25-28 buses.