This weekend and the upcoming extended weekend have come as a big relief for the Indian Railways, with its prestigious Gatimaan Express finally finding takers.
The fastest train in the country has been a bit slow in gaining popularity with travellers.
Booking for the train had started on April 2 but it didn't find many takers initially, with the train running almost empty for the initial few days. But since its inaugural run on April 5 and the media attention thereafter, the train has become hot property.
On Saturday, the 600 odd seats, spread over eight AC Chair Car coaches and two Executive AC Chair Car coaches were overbooked, with passengers being wait listed for Sunday.
The Hindu was the first to report, on April 5, that despite Indian Railways being very upbeat about the premium train, Gatimaan Express hadn’t generated much interest from passengers initially.
“Only a few days from inaugural day, #GatimaanExpress train which left for Agra today has 100% occupancy. An extremely popular brand Thx all (sic)”, tweeted Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu.
The upcoming extended weekend is also proving to be a boon for Gatimaan Express, with more than half the seats for April 14, 15 and 16 already booked. For week days, however, the occupancy rate still remains low with about 100 to 200 seats booked.
“The patronisation received by the Gatimaan Express has shown a healthy sign. It is gaining momentum," a Northern Railway spokesperson said, adding that the waitlisting was a good indicator of its popularity,” .The spokesperson said that a lot of enquiries are being received from tour operators catering to foreign tourists, a segment that Gatimaan Express plans to target.
“Gatimaan Express has been receiving positive response form passengers and tourists because of its wonderfully blended combination of speed and luxury,” he said.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is offering two different guided heritage tours in Agra to coincide with the time table of Gatimaan Express.
One package is for single day while the other is a an overnight package.
Source: The Hind