Eight years after it was launched in November 2011 following the demands of Ludhiana businessmen and industrialists, the New Delhi-Ludhiana Shatabdi is set to be discontinued.
However, the Railways will on October 5 start operating a new luxury semi-high speed train — the Vande Bharat Express (T-18) — which will cover the Delhi-Ludhiana route in 3 hours and 20 minutes as compared to the 5 hours and 25 minutes this Shatabdi takes. The train will finally stop at Katra in J&K (a travel time of 8 hours from Delhi), where the shrine of Vaishno Devi is located.
The Shatabdi will have its final run on October 3. It has been converted into Superfast Intercity Express from New Delhi to Lohian Khas via Rohtak, Jind, Dhuri, Sangrur, Ludhiana, Jalandhar city and Sultanpur Lodhi, and will run five days a week from October 4.
This Shatabdi used to run five days a week. On Mondays and Saturdays, it was extended till Moga and used to run as New Delhi-Moga Shatabdi Express, which too has been scrapped. The Superfast Intercity Express will run twice a week (Mondays and Saturdays) from Moga to Delhi and back.
The two other Shatabdis- Amritsar Shatabdi and Swarna Shatabdi take around 4 hours covering Ludhiana to Delhi.
The semi-high speed Vande Bharat Express will be inaugurated on October 3.
Ludhiana will be its only stop in Punjab apart from Ambala Cantt in Haryana and Jammu Tawi, said Ludhiana station director Tarun Kumar.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Kumar said the New Delhi-Ludhiana Shatabdi has been discontinued as it was running in losses and occupancy was very low. “While two other Shatabdis on Ludhiana-Delhi route run on Linke-Hofmann-Busch (LHB) coaches which are faster, the one scrapped was running on Integrated Coach Factory (ICF) coaches which are comparatively slower. The occupancy was less compared to two other Shatabdis,” he said.
The maximum permissible speed limit for the discontinued Shatabdi was 110 km/hour.
Speaking about Vande Bharat Express, Kumar added, “This is a luxury train with automatic sliding doors. It has 16 coaches including 14 Chair Car (CC) coaches and 2 Executive Class (EC) coaches. The train will run six days a week except on Tuesdays. Though we have successfully run it at 160 km/hour, the maximum permissible speed for Ludhiana-Delhi route is 130 km/hour. The chairs in executive coaches are 360 degrees rotatable. However, no non-vegetarian food will be served in Vande Bharat Express as per orders received, probably because its final destination is Mata Vaishno Devi shrine.”
“The Intercity Express started in place of Shatabdi will be beneficial for those who cannot afford AC chair cars as it will have non-AC coaches too. But it will still take five and a half hours to reach Ludhiana from Delhi and vice-versa,” he said.