After receiving a positive response on the scenic Pune Western Ghats section, the Central Railway plans to expand the popularity of the wider view vistadome train coaches in the picturesque Mumbai-Goa Konkan belt. The vistadome coaches, which have large windows and transparent roofs, have become popular among passengers on the 21-kilometer-long Bhor ghat section between Mumbai and Pune. This is one of the country’s steepest ghats, with 28 tunnels, and offers breathtaking views of the Sahyadri mountains, the Ulhas river valley, and the surrounding areas.
The Mumbai-Goa route has a similar terrain. Now, the Central Railway (CR) is planning to attach one more vistadome coach to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT)-Madgaon Tejas Express, one of the premium trains on the Mumbai-Goa route, before this year’s end, a senior railway official told PTI.
“Whether it is the breath-taking views of valleys, rivers, and waterfalls along the Mumbai-Goa route or the spectacular views of the Western Ghats along the Mumbai-Pune route, these coaches with glass rooftops and wide window panes have proved to be a hit,” CR’s chief public relations officer Shivaji Sutar said.
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The vistadome coaches also have other attractions like LED lights, rotatable seats, and pushback chairs, and electrically operated automatic sliding compartment doors. The viewing gallery having big glass windows on three sides is one of the biggest attractions of these coaches, according to railway officials, and passengers love to click photographs and selfies from it.
The Konkan belt offers a stunning view of waterfalls, rivers, valleys, tunnels, lush green fields, and creeks. The CR had introduced its first vistadome coach on the Mumbai-Goa route in 2018.
The CSMT-Madgaon Janshatabdi Express was the first train to run with the vistadome coach attached at its rear end. After its huge popularity, the CR attached vistadome coaches to the Deccan Express train on the Mumbai-Pune route from June 26, 2021. Looking at its success, the railway recently attached such coaches to the Deccan Queen and Pragati Express on the Mumbai-Pune route.
Currently, the CR operates five pairs of trains, including the Janshatabdi Express, with vistadome coaches, as per railway officials. Of these, three trains are operated on the Mumbai-Pune route and one each on Pune-Secunderabad and Mumbai-Madgaon sections.
According to the CR, nearly 32,000 passengers have enjoyed travelling in the vistadome coaches of trains on the Mumbai-Goa and Mumbai-Pune routes in the current financial year 2022-23, adding revenue of Rs four crore till August 10. The vistadome coaches run on the Mumbai-Pune section having a seating capacity of 44. In the wake of their increasing popularity and travel demand, many times, passengers do not get confirmed tickets, even as they have to pay more than double the fare for enjoying travel in such coaches as compared to the chair car fare.
A single vistadome coach each attached to the Deccan Queen, Deccan Express, and Pragati Express train increased the Railways’ earnings by more than three times as compared to five-six second sitting (2S) coaches attached to these trains, as per official data.
Last month, the average earning from 2S coaches was around Rs 11,000 to 12,000, as against Rs 40,000 to Rs 45,000 from a vistadome coach, depending upon the train, the data said.
The Railways added a vistadome coach to the Pune-Secunderabad Shatabdi Express from August 10, 2022. The CR is hoping to get a good response from passengers on this new route.
“Passengers of the Pune-Secunderabad Shatabdi Express will be able to enjoy the view of the Ujni backwaters and a dam near Bhigwan, famous for many inland and migratory birds,” Sutar said. “As the train traverses through the Ananthagiri Hills near Vikarabad in Telangana, passengers will also get to see the scenic beauty of a forest in the area”? he said.
There were 33 vistadome coaches attached to 23 pairs of trains running on broad gauge, meter gauge, and narrow gauge sections of the Indian Railways network, as per a railway release issued earlier this month.
The manufacture and induction of more vistadome coaches in train services is an ongoing process subject to operational feasibility, schedule of the train, traffic justification, and availability of rolling stock, the release said. Currently, 12 Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) vistadome coaches are being manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai, it said. Also, 30 narrow gauge vistadome coaches for the Kalka Shimla railway line are being manufactured at the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala. Besides, the conversion of 10 narrow gauge coaches into vistadome coaches is being done by the Northeast Frontier Railway, the release said.