Mumbai (Metro Rail New): The passengers travelling from Mumbai to Shirdi soon will be able to travel through Train 18 and reach their destination in just three hours. Central Railway’s (CR) first Train 18 will ply between Mumbai and Shirdi. Currently, the trains which are operating on this route take up to nine hours to reach Shirdi.
Shirdi is a major pilgrimage site in Maharashtra and popular with domestic tourists.
A senior Central Railway official said, “Mumbai-Shirdi route for Train18 operation on Central Railway was decided after consultation with the Railway board officials. The final route decision will be taken soon.”
Vande Bharat Express also known as the semi high-speed train is expected to cover the 291-kilometer distance in three hours cutting travel time down by six hours. Currently, the journey takes an average of nine hours by train.
Train 18 will resemble Shatabdi trains and the routes under consideration are via Pune/Daund or via Manmad railway stations.
The zonal railway will also finalise where Train 18’s maintenance will be carried out in the coming days. Earlier this month, during a meeting of senior CR officials, it was proposed that the semi high-speed train would leave Mumbai early in the morning, reach Shirdi in three hours and then do a return journey from Shirdi on the same day.
A CR official said, “Presently, the rail route does not have much passenger traffic. One major reason is due to the time taken to reach by train. With Train 18, the travel period will be shorter.”
The ministry of Railways had held a meeting in May of all zonal railways in New Delhi to decide the routes on which Train 18 could operate. Western Railway is planning to introduce the train on the Mumbai-New Delhi route.
Passenger associations have welcomed the move.
Lata Argade, vice president, Mumbai Rail said, “Pilgrims who travel to Shirdi by road reach in three hours. It takes six hours to complete the Shirdi visit and then returns.”
“If Train18 reaches in four hours and passengers can return to the city as well, people will start preferring rail for travelling.”
Currently, Train 18 is operating between New Delhi and Varanasi, by completing the journey of 752 km in eight hours. It has a top speed of 180 kmph, but operates on a maximum speed of 160 kmph.
Integrated Rail Factory, Chennai are going to produce a new batch of these trains.