Interesting article on the first Rajdhani express.
Rail Wonder: The first Rajdhani reaches the Howrah station on March 1, 1969RAILWAYS: RAJDHANI
Diva On Her Tracks
Four decades on, the Howrah Rajdhani Express chugs along, shinier, but at the same pace
The Howrah Rajdhani
40 years ago
[*]Distance: 1,445 km from Howrah to New Delhi
[*]Time: 17 hrs, 20 min
[*]Stops: Three technical stops at Gomoh, Mughalsarai, Kanpur. No passenger pick-ups or drops.
[*]Coaches: 9, built in Integral Coach Factory, Perambur—two power cars, 5 AC chair cars, 1 AC dining car, I AC first class coach Fully airconditioned Ran on diesel engine
[*]Maximum Speed: 120 kmph
[*]Fare: Rs 90 for AC chaircar, Rs 280 for AC first class, including food
[*]Menu: Morning tea and biscuits, breakfast with choice of eggs, seasonal fruits, three-course lunches and dinners, choice of European/Indian cuisine
Source: Eastern Railways
[*]Time: 17 hrs, 10 min ( 16 hrs, 55 min on return leg)
[*]Stops: Dhanbad, Gaya, Mughalsarai, Allahabad, Kanpur (Patna instead of Gaya on Sundays)
[*]Coaches: 18, new ones, manufactured under licence from LHB, Germany, at Railway Coach Factory, Kapurthala: 2 AC first class, 5 AC two tier, 7 AC three tier, 2 pantry cars and 2 power cars hauled by electric locomotives
[*]Maximum Speed: 130 kmph
[*]Frequency: Daily, plus one more daily Rajdhani from Sealdah, giving Calcutta two Rajdhanis
[*]Fare: AC first class Rs 3,365, AC 2-tier Rs 2,010, and AC 3-tier 1,520 (chair car phased out)
[*]Menu: Even more sumptuous, with juices, sandwiches, barfis and sandesh
[*]Extra Amenities: Laptop and mobile charging facilities; fresh linen sealed in plastic bags; features commercial ads
[*]Low: Derailed near Gaya in 2002, killing 108 people
[*]High: Got ISO 2001 certificate for overall train management***
Four decades later, the story can be told. India's first ever Rajdhani was launched, not with the exuberance that will mark its 40th anniversary celebrations this month, but with diffidence, trepidation and more than a little opposition. In the high noon of Indira Gandhi's socialist phase, railway bosses were worried that a fully airconditioned, well-appointed superfast train, would be perceived as an ameer rath. Lower down, there was consternation at the proposed leap from 100 kmph (the highest speed at which long-distance trains then ran) to 136 kmph, the designated maximum speed for the Rajdhani trials. "Our team was not welcomed in many places," says A.K. Banerji, part of the select group at the Railways' Research, Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), which conceived and operationalised the Rajdhani in the late '60s. Objection after objection was raised, he recalls, when it took its proposal to the zonal railways whose territories the new train would run through; an engineer-in-chief even chose to switch jobs than be part of such a 'risky' venture.
If this RDSO team was able to keep going—with "Gandhian persistence", says Banerji—it was for two reasons. With civil aviation in its infancy, there was a widely acknowledged need for overnight trains that would enable business travellers to reach a major city early enough the next morning to get work done, and leave for home in the evening, saving on hotel fare. The new train linking Delhi and Calcutta would do just that by shrinking travel time from a backbreaking 24 hours (even 30, on some trains) to 17 hours.
The other compelling reason was the desire, at least within the RDSO, to demonstrate an Indian achievement at a time when record-breaking train speeds of 160-200 kmph were being achieved in the West.