New Delhi: Indian Railways is planning to explore the possibility of semi-high speed trains between Mumbai to Pune, Nashik and Vadodara on the lines of Vande Bharat express.

The first Vande Bharat Express was launched between New Delhi to Varanasi, which reduced the travel time by 40 per cent, covers the distance in 9 hours 45 minutes.

To put things in perspective, Deccan Queen, a passenger train between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and Pune junction, takes 3 hours 15 minutes to cover the distance of 192 km.

Similarly, Mumbai-Nashik Panchavati Express takes 3 hours 25 minutes to cover a distance of 188 km. This journey time will be cut short to just 2 hours.

The trial for the possibility of semi-high speed trains on Mumbai-Pune route will be conducted by upgraded Main Line Electrical Multiple Unit (MEMU) trains, which is a cross between long-distance trains and Electrical Multiple Unit (EMUs), or local trains.

“We are going to start trial runs from the next week on the Vande-Bharat pattern. One AC-EMU rake and one non-AC MEMU rake will be given to the Central and Western Railways,” said Rajesh Agrawal, an ex-officio Secretary to the Government of India.

According to Rajesh Agrawal, no final decision has been taken yet and they are only going to explore the possibility. Traffic congestion and upgradation of infrastructure including the tracks are bigger challenges for the railways.

Agrawal also said that by the end of March 2020, the railways has planned to run 12 AC locals in Mumbai, six each on the Central and Western suburban lines.

Currently, people prefer Mumbai-Pune expressway over the train because of the journey time and accessibility. The upgradation of lines and trains will share the load of the expressway which often gets blocked before the monsoon due to the scaling work in the landslide-prone area.

(With PTI inputs)