With 550 on board, third Shatabdi chugs out of Chandigarh station

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Nearly 24 years after the first Shatabdi between New Delhi and Chandigarh and 19 years after the second such train, the Chandigarh-New Delhi Shatabdi Express was flagged off by Union Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal amidst much fanfare, from the Chandigarh Railway Station on Monday.

Decked up in flowers,the train rolled out of the Chandigarh Railway station at 11:40 am with about 550 passengers on board. This will be the third Shatabdi to run between the national capital and Chandigarh, Bansal's Lok Sabha constituency.

It will ply non stop between Chandigarh and Delhi taking 12 minutes less than the other two trains, that have three stoppages on the way. The latest Shatabdi has nine chair car coaches with a capacity of 702 passengers and one executive coach with a capacity to accommodate 56 people. A seat on the chair car will cost Rs 513 while the fare for the executive class is Rs 1080. The train is equipped with LHB coaches that would provide more facilities to the passengers including more led space and a jerk free journey.

Except for Sunday, the train will run for six days in a week. It is technically the first Shatabdi to originate from and terminate at Chandigarh: the other two begin their journey at Kalka in Haryana but halt in Chandigarh.

The latest Shatabdi will depart from Chandigarh at 11:40 am to reach New Delhi at 3 pm the same day. Its return journey will begin from New Delhi at 7:15 pm to reach Chandigarh at 10:35 pm on the same day. At present, the morning Shatabdi leaves Chandigarh at 6.53 am and reaches Delhi at 10.25 pm and it departs from Delhi at 7.40 am and reaches Chandigarh at 11.05 am. The evening train departs from Chandigarh at 6.23 pm and reaches Delhi at 9.55 pm while it leaves Delhi at 5.15 pm and reaches Chandigarh at 8.40 pm.

The new train comes amidst city residents' long pending demand for an afternoon Shatabdi. "It was getting difficult to get tickets for the morning Shatabdi as most of the times it was booked. This Shatabdi is more convenient as one does not have to rush to the station early in the morning," said Anita, one of the passengers. Among the passengers was Satinder Dhawan, wife of senior BJP leader Harmohan Dhawan who stated that she was all set to be a part of the maiden journey of the train.

All Cong affair

The flagging off function was dominated by Congress members with party workers carrying flags while raising slogans hailing their party and leaders. A number of Congress leaders and councillors were present on the occasion with the platform, from where Railways Minister flagged off the train, being dominated by Congress members. Among those who had jostled their way on to the platform were Shashi Shanker Tewari, Kawaljit Singh Panchhi, H C Kalyan. Congress president B B Bahl and Mayor Subhash Chawla were also present. While senior railway officials were present on the platform, some of those from Chandigarh and Ambala could not find a place.

Sidelights

z The first Kalka Shatabdi was started on November 14, 1989 and the second on July 20, 1994

z Passengers who were to board the train could be seen getting pictures clicked outside the decked up train.

z There was parking chaos at the station. The parking lot at the station was unable to accommodate the heavy rush of vehicles and soon entry into the lot was closed leaving people stranded. On regular days, people park along the roads outside the parking lot but heavy security on Monday prevented them from doing so.

z Bansal's relatives including his wife, son and a nephew were present on the occasion.

At a Glance

Chandigarh to Delhi

z Departure: 11.40 am

z Arrival: 3 pm

Delhi to Chandigarh

z Departure - 7.15 pm

z Arrival - 10.35 pm

Travel Time: 3 hrs 20 mins

Fare - Rs 513 (chair car); Rs 1080 (executive)

Capacity - 758 passengers

Hiccups on Day 1

The reservation for the newly flagged train was suspended for a few hours on Monday due to discrepancies in the fare structure. Authorities realised that passengers had been charged an additional Rs 5. Later in the evening, reservations were started again.

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