Mar 172009

New train will take you to Shirdi in 7 hrs

Mumbai: There is good news for devotees who want to reach Shirdi to attend the kaakad aarti of Sai Baba which takes place from 5.15am to 5.45am. Starting March 20, the Central Railway (CR) will operate a train that will reach Shirdi in less than seven hours. After commissioning of the dedicated railway line planned from Puntamba to Shirdi, CR was run-ning Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus-Sainagar Shirdi passenger train every day. 

Introduced in the last week of February, the daily passengers train goes via Daund towards Ahmednagar right up to Puntamba to Shirdi and covers a distance of 455.2 km. It takes around 13 hours to reach Shirdi.

“However, this new train will go via Nashik right up to Manmad without halting at Puntamba to reach Shirdi. It will have only six halts after CST at Dadar, Kalyan, Igatpuri, Nasik, Kopargaon and Shirdi,” said Sriniwas Mudgerikar, chief PRO of CR.

The special train will leave CST on March 20 at 10.20 pm and reach Shirdi at 5 am the next day. It will then return to Mumbai on the same day. 

However, a senior CR official said that the special train would be run on experimental basis to see whether people would benefit from it. “If it is successful it will be introduced as weekend special in the future.”

MUMBAI: Thousands of devotees who flock to Shirdi to catch a glimpse of Sai Baba will be blessed with a direct train from Sunday. The train will  leave CST at 10.55 pm and reach Shirdi at 10.30 am the next day. 

The much-awaited service will be flagged off by Union railway minister Lalu Prasad. “The inaugural train will flagged off on Saturday at 3 pm. But it will be from Puntamba to Shirdi. Regular services will commence from Sunday,” an official said. 

“Putamba station is on the Manmad-Daund section of the CR. It is about 70 km from Manmad and about 20 km from Shirdi. Earlier, after reaching Puntamba the only way to get to Shirdi was by road. With the completion of the Puntamba-Shirdi rail project, pilgrims will be able to reach Shirdi without any break in journey,” said chief PRO, CR, S C Mudgerikar. Initially, there would be just one service per day. “But depending on the demand, we can increase services subsequently,” he added. 

Even though the project was sanctioned in 2000-01 at a cost of Rs 30.22 crore, its execution got delayed. “Getting land from the state government took longer than expected,” an official said. 

Shirdi station will include two waiting rooms and a dormitory. “The building is aesthetically designed with a touch of local architecture. It will have a 500 metre-long platform to accommodate a 22-coach train,” an official said. The entire project has been completed at a cost of Rs 78 crore. 
From CST to temple town About 12hours 
Route | CST- Dadar- Thane- Kalyan- Pune- Daund- Ahmednagar- Puntamba-Shirdi 
Distance 457Km 
Halts 22 
Bookings for the first train | From Saturday Average ticket prices Rs 130 Station to shrine A 10-minute walk 
Routes planned l Igatpuri- Nasik- Manmad- Puntamba- Shirdi l CST- Manmad- Puntamba- Shirdi 
Coach composition 1 AC three-tier, 2 three-tier non-AC, 2 general seating compartments, 1 luggage-cum-seating compartment 

Timings | Leaves CST at 10.55 pm reaches Shirdi at 10.30 am 
Return train: Leaves Shirdi at 4.40 pm, reaches CST at 4.25 am

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