Enjoy the beautiful Western Ghats from the comfort of Vistadome coaches

Enjoy the beautiful Western Ghats from the comfort of Vistadome coaches

Vistadome coaches introduced on the Mumbai-Pune route, with their transparent ceiling, wide windowpanes, and 180-degree rotatable recliner seats offer a glimpse of the beautiful Western Ghats. It began its service on Saturday. Along with the European-style coaches, it’s also taking this route for the first time and offers passengers a golden opportunity to feast on the glorious scenery while travelling through the Mumbai-Goa route.

The special Vistadome coaches were introduced in the Deccan Express to lure the tourists. Those taking the Mumbai-Pune route can enjoy the experience of being with nature while travelling close to Matheran hill, Songir hill (near Palasdhari), Ulhas River (near Jambrung), Ulhas Valley, scenic areas of Khandala and Lonavala, waterfalls and through tunnels.

“A Panoramic View of the Western Ghats: Wide windowpanes & glass rooftops of the first-ever Vistadome Coach in Pune-Mumbai Deccan Express provide passengers with an unhindered, unique and unforgettable travel experience. Come, experience the Western Ghats as never before!”—Piyush Goyal, the Ministry of Railways had tweeted.

The fully air-conditioned coaches have glass panels fitted on the roof. There are large window panes to look at the countryside. There are 180-degree rotatable recline seats. There are 44 seats. They have also facilitated an observation room to view the scenery. Wi-Fi-enabled information passenger system is also available inside the coach. Other facilities include an automatic sliding door and Multitier luggage rack. The Vistadome coaches were made at Chennai Integral Coach Factory. It was when the Maharashtra govt put a ban on interstate travel that the train got delayed starting its service.

In the first trip itself, the coach was full. Apart from these Vistadome coaches, the Mumbai-Pune Deccan Express Special Train also includes three AC Chair cars, 10-second class seating and a Guard’s Break Van. The 01007 Deccan Express special leaves Mumbai CSMT at 7 am daily and the train from Pune starts at 3.15 pm. The CSMT-Pune fare is '835, while it is '655 till Lonavala. The train halts at Dadar, Thane, Kalyan, Neral (for 01007 only), Lonavala, Talegaon, Khadki and Shivaji Nagar.

The booking has started at the Indian Railway website ( www.irctc.co.in) and PRS Kendras. Officials said only passengers having confirmed tickets will be permitted to board this special train, adhering to all norms, SOPs related to Covid-19. The ticket rates will be the same as that of Shatabdi’s Executive chair class rates and there won’t be any special concessions for any passengers.

Unusual and amazing train trips in the world

Baikal–Amur Mainline, Russia: Which line runs through more than 2500 miles (4320km) of the Siberian wilderness, connects remote settlements where temperatures sink to -60°C (-76°F) in winter and was predicted as the greatest construction project in the history of the Soviet Union? That’s the Baikal–Amur Mainline, better known as the BAM – the rogue sibling of the infinitely more famous railway to the south. Built the better part of a century after the Trans-Sib, the BAM is colder, remoter and traverses’ scenery that is every bit as spectacular, but its rails are travelled by barely any tourists. The mainline stretches over 3,140km and is built in an inhospitable land of extreme winter cold and blazes a path through some of Russia's least accessible terrain.

Malnad (Western Ghats, India): Shimoga in Karnataka province is the eastern end of the run to Talaguppa in the Western Ghat Mountains. The 46.6-mile (75 km), three-hour journey aboard a small railbus from Shimoga to Talaguppa passes through the lush rain forest. The magnificent Jog Falls—India’s highest waterfall—can be reached by road from Talaguppa. An overnight train from Bangalore connects with Shimoga. Facilities on the railbus are limited. The line is being upgraded, so check ahead before traveling.

Kandy to Haputale (Sri Lanka): The train south from Kandy, in central Sri Lanka, to Haputale travels past tea plantations, forests, unspoiled villages, and waterfalls. For the five-hour journey, the first-class observation car is well worth the extra fare. Advance booking is essential. Expect high temperatures and humidity.

The Bergensbanen, Norway: This astonishing train is one of the wonders of 19th-century railway building, and yet outside Norway hardly anyone knows about it. In just over six hours and 300 miles (490km) of travel, it covers the spectrum of Norway’s natural splendour: climbing canyons, crossing rivers, burrowing through mountainsides, and traversing barren icescapes. All aboard for the Bergensbanen: a mainline into Norwegian nature.

White Pass and Yukon railroad, Canada, and USA: When a trio of prospectors found gold in a tributary of the Klondike River in 1896, they triggered one of the world’s largest gold rushes. To begin with, stampeders had to hike the treacherous Chilkoot Trail to get their treasure. But between 1898 and 1900, a narrow-gauge railway was built through the seemingly impossible terrain to make the journey a lot easier. The White Pass & Yukon Railroad necessitated tunnels, trestles, grades of up to 3.9% and tight cliff-teetering bends; it climbs almost 1,000m in its first 32 kilometres. Now, it carries visitors along the Skagway River, squeezing between waterfalls, thick forest and groaning glaciers, crossing the US/Canada border at White Pass, and descending to Lake Bennett, once the site of a bustling tent city, where pre-train prospectors paused after surviving the Chilkoot Trail.

Copper Canyon railway, Mexico: The Spanish conquistadores, who found silver in northern Mexico’s Copper Canyon in the 17th century, had to employ mules and the local Rarámuri people to haul out their spoils. They would have loved ‘El Chepe’, aka the Copper Canyon Railway, which links the coastal town of Topolobampo to the dusty inland city of Chihuahua via this network of plunging ravines. Taking almost 90 years to complete, the line finally opened in 1961. On its dramatic journey, El Chepe must negotiate 87 tunnels, 36 bridges and sweeping hairpin bends as it climbs from sea level to the rim-top views it offers at 2,400m.

Tazara Railway, Tanzania and Zambia: On a continent where taking things slowly is compulsory, it won’t come as much of a surprise the 46-hour journey along the 1160-mile (1860km) route from Tanzania’s port city to New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia often ends up taking far longer. Then again, few trains in the world offer the chance - and we should point out that it’s a chance rather than a guarantee – of spotting big game from your seat, but the Tazara (Tanzania and Zambia Railway Authority) does exactly that. For many, the highlight is neither the scenery nor the wildlife, though; it is the chance to spend two days watching everyday life out of the window and enjoying the clamour and chaos when the train pulls to a halt, scheduled or unscheduled.

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