The non-stop Duronto trains will no longer offer cheap yet fast travel as the Railways Saturday decided to bring the AC fares on par with Rajdhani and Shatabdi, thereby eliminating a major USP of the train, which was considered to be former Railway Minister Mamata Banerjeeís only successful contribution.
The Durontos were designed to run non-stop, offering Rajdhani-like experience with food included and doctors on board at a fare that was around 15-20 per cent cheaper than the Rajdhanis so that the aam aadmi could afford premium services.
This comes a day after the Railways hiked passenger fares by two per cent by implementing the variable fuel adjustment component mechanism on fares. With mounting operating costs, the coaching losses thanks to this discount were too much for the Railways to bear. The current dispensation has decided to keep everything same, for now, except the pricing. Starting October 10, the fares will go up. The sleeper class and non-AC chair car fares on Duronto have been left untouched.
Currently, the ticket from Delhi to Sealdah on the Rajdhani comes for Rs 1,785. The same travel on Duronto is for 1,585, taking around two hours less to reach its destination. The difference is similar on all other routes. For short distance Durontos, the fares will be matched with the prevailing Shatabdi.
A number of measures that are a part of the original product attributes of the Duronto have been altered slowly since Mamata departed from the ministry last year. The on-board doctor service has been truncated because of lack of demand for the service in the face of shortage of medical staff. The colourful vinyl wrapping on the exterior of the unique Duronto coaches may be changed too. The only aspect that has yet remained unchanged is its non-stop run.