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India unveils fastest train

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3 April 2016

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The current train on the route is known as "The Little Engine That Cantt."

AGRA, India -- India's fastest train will make its maiden voyage on 5 April. The Gatiman Express will go between here and Delhi, taking 1 hour and 40 minutes for the 195km.

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The current passenger train, the Gatiman Slowpoke, takes eight hours to make the same journey, makes 27 stops compared to none at all for the new train, and always arrives one or two hours late. This alone is expected to justify the new fare of ₹690 (₹1,365 for Executive Class) compared to ₹45 for the traditional service.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will raise a ceremonial lever at Nizamuddin Station in Delhi to start the Express on its voyage toward Agra's appropriately named Cantt Station at speeds of up to 160 km/hr.

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Train commuters show the "state of the art."

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The train has several innovative features. Leather straps will let passengers clinging to the Indian tradition of clinging onto the roof of a rail car cling more securely at the unprecedented new speeds, in the style of "strap-hangers" on the New York City subway. A hostess service will be provided to calm passengers worried about the effects of travel so close to the speed of light. She will regale travelers with rosebuds as soft music plays in the background. A GPS-based information system will inform passengers where the train is, in the case that it is somewhere else than on the tracks. The wall-mounted appliance is a joint venture of Garmin and Elmer's Glue. The Railway Ministry is also investigating the use of small children as an aid to deceleration that might be more effective than the routine failures of the electrical supply to the train.

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Train service resumes after brief ineffective pause

Mr. Prabhu thought the maiden run would go smoothly, leaving Delhi at 10.00 and arriving in Agra at 11.40, provided the old train is not ahead of it on the same track. He allowed that it might be a disappointment to the customers if the Gatiman Express trailed behind the Slowpoke for eight hours as the latter stopped at every single station. This would mean the Express would stop many times where it was not stopping. If passengers tried to get on or off at these stops of the nonstop, it might go even slower. However, Mr. Prabhu said the alternative — proceeding to Agra without reducing its speed to account for the stopped train ahead of it — might work even worse.

Divisional railway manager Sheelendra Pratap Singh said that the traditional service does not use a slow train. The problem is the tracks, which are only rated for 110 km/hr. However, the rating has been upgraded to reflect the inauguration of the Express.

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