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Tuesday marked a leap for the Indian Railways towards the high speed age, with the launch of the much-touted Gatimaan Express, fastest train in the country.

The semi high-speed train, with a 5,400 horse power electric locomotive and top speed of 160 kmph, covered the nearly 200 km distance between Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station and Agra Cantonment station in exactly 100 minutes, as promised.

It is, however, only slightly faster than the Bhopal Shatabdi launched 28 years ago, which takes 117 minutes to reach Agra but also takes a longer route, starting from the New Delhi Railway station.

Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station was decked up as Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu flagged off the train at 10.10 am on Tuesday.

The train, painted in blue and grey with a streak of bright yellow in the middle, sputtered to a start but soon picked up speed as it crossed the Okhla railway station and from there on, completed its journey at a tearing speed, even as the 237 passengers on board settled down in their cushy seats of the spanking clean AC Chair Car coaches.

“I often drive down to Agra during the weekend with my family but with the Gatimaan Express now taking less time in covering the distance and in far greater comfort, I wouldn’t need to drive to Agra anymore,” said Ravi Kumar Goel (52), a businessman.

Most passengers were taking the train for a joyride, with many having booked tickets on Tuesday morning. There were also the ‘rail fans’, who had come equipped with GPS-based apps on their smartphones to see exactly how fast Gatimaan could run.

For the passengers, the high points were the ever smiling train hosts and hostesses, who greeted them with flowers and chocolates. A sore point, however, was unavailability of free wi-fi services that railways had promised.

(Source : The Hindu)

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