Mumbai: Decades before the country’s first expressway connected Mumbai and Pune, a prestigious train, Deccan Queen, was the prime link to the two cities - India’s commercial capital and the educational capital of what was then Bombay state.
Yesterday, the venerable Deccan Queen turned a healthy 85 and is still going strong — despite stiff competition from the Mumbai-Pune Expressway since 2002 and certain other trains on this crucial sector of Central Railway. Started in June 1930 by the Great Indian Peninsular Railway (GIPR), the forerunner to Central Railway, the Deccan Queen was the first luxury train that contributed immensely to the trade, commerce, business, academia, culture, tourism and social ties between the two cities separated by the awesome Western Ghats.
Started modestly with two rakes (trains) of seven coaches, each painted silver with scarlet mouldings and royal blue with gold lines, the original model was built in England while the coach bodies were constructed at the Matunga Workshop of GIPR. Keeping in mind the travellers, it had only first and second class configuration till 1948.
In Jan 1949, the first class was abolished and the second class was redesigned as first class. This continued up to June 1955. Later, a third class was introduced (June 1955) and this was redesignated as second class in April 1974.
The Deccan Queen also underwent other changes over the years. In 1966, the original British-built rakes were replaced by anti-telescopic steel-bodied coaches built by the Integral Coach Factory, Perambur.
Despite the short running time — average around 3 hours and 15 minutes — the Deccan Queen is among the few trains which offers a dining car with table service for 32 passengers at a time. Given its virtually unchallenged record of on-time performance, the Deccan Queen perhaps resulted in “inter-city commuters” for the first time in India. IANS