The double-decker train between Mumbai and Goa took a big step towards becoming a reality after railway's top technical authority, Research Design Standards Organisation (RDSO), cleared the trial report.
The trial involved experts from the RDSO, Central and Konkan Railways (KR), and was conducted between Roha and Madgaon on May 20-21.
The trials were to check if the double-decker, which has a height in excess of normal long-distance trains, had any problems navigating the 68 tunnels between Roha and Madgaon.
According to KR officials, KR's various departments will now study the report and send it to the Commissioner of Railway Safety for final approval, following which the double-decker will start commercial operations.
Officials said the train had three slots. One would be to use it as a replacement for 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 journey in about 8 hours and 45 minutes.
The second option is to operate the double-decker on select days as a premium train- with fluctuating fares. This would ensure higher returns and also keep the route from getting more congested than it already is.
The third is to run it in a completely new slot, but according to officials, the Mumbai-Goa route with 27 trains, is already congested and KR being a single-line, it has its limitations.
Given a good slot, the train could be a money spinner, railways feel. Despite there being 27 trains on the route, passenger flow just doesn't seem to ebb. During off-season, there are around 50 buses each way between Mumbai and Goa, and during the holiday season, the figure rises to 90 each way. Each bus carries around 45-50 passengers. The 12-coach double decker can carry 1,440 passengers, almost as good as 25-28 buses.