More comfort: Nagpur – Mumbai Duronto to get full LHB rakes.

The 12289/12290 Nagpur – Mumbai – Nagpur Duronto will soon switch from hybrid LHB to full LHB rakes, according to reports in the local media.

Central Railway (CR) officials have been planning for the switch for a few months. Unavailability of the required number of coaches delayed the move. Two rakes of 18 coaches each are finally available at Nagpur. However, non-availability of any dignitary has also become a hurdle in the switch, according to officials quoted by the local edition of Times of India.

In a recent circular, CR had also identified the Nagpur Duronto as one of the trains to be converted to ‘Utkrisht’ coach design. Utkrisht coaches are meant to feature more modern interiors and amenities. This will now become unnecessary with the new rakes.

It is unclear which service will utilise the old rakes when they are freed up.

Better ride quality, comfort

Switching to the new full LHB rakes will bring several benefits. Hybrid LHB rakes are notorious for poor ride quality. Sudden jerks on start, acceleration or when braking have also been a regular passenger issue.

The new LHB rakes have a modern, high-speed bogie with much better ride quality. The new coaches also feature improved couplers to eliminate the problem of jolts. Also new are End-On Generation (EOG) coaches on both ends. The new rakes can also receive power from the locomotive in front, in a system called HOG (Head-On Generation), thus saving diesel.

Hybrid LHB design:

Hybrid LHB coaches were an experimental design dating back to the late 2000s. This was the time when the transition from the old ICF design had begun. However, production of standard LHB rakes had not ramped up significantly. Only a few hundred coaches of this type were built before IR decided to switch to only full LHB design production, including for non-AC classes. Full LHB rakes in those days were all air-conditioned consists with EOG coaches for power.

The Nagpur – Mumbai Duronto was the first of the class to be allotted a hybrid rake on launch in late 2009.

The hybrid version mated the safer LHB design coach shell to the old flexicoil ICF bogies from the legacy design. One significant modification was made to the bogie; air suspension was used in place of regular coil suspension found in the standard version. The rake was initially restricted to 105 kph speeds.

Another important change from the standard LHB rakes was the use of self-generating coaches, dispensing with the need for EOG coaches at both ends. With no unreserved tickets allowed for Durontos, SLR coaches of the Nagpur Duronto ran empty initially. They were subsequently used to carry parcel bookings between the two cities.

Missed Opportunity

There was calls to replace the hybrid rake will full LHB in August 2017, when 12290 Nagpur – Mumbai Duronto derailed near Asangaon in Mumbai. Several coaches were damaged beyond repair at the time, though there were no casualties. Spare coaches had to be called in from other zones to replace the damaged ones.

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