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Howrah Rajdhani Express

Howrah - New Delhi Rajdhani Express
Service type Rajdhani Express
Status Operating
Locale West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh & Delhi
First service 03 March 1969
Current operator(s) Eastern Railways
Start Howrah Junction (HWH)
End New Delhi (NDLS)
Distance travelled 1451 km
Average journey time 16 hrs 55 mins(for 12302) , 17 hrs(for 12301)
Service frequency Daily
Train number(s) 12301/12302; 12305/12306
On-board services
Class(es) AC 1st Class, AC 2 Tier, AC 3 Tier
Seating arrangements No
Sleeping arrangements Available
Auto-rack arrangements No
Catering facilities Available (included in the ticket)
Observation facilities Large Windows
Baggage facilities Available
Track gauge 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in)
Operating speed maximum
, excluding halts
Route map

Howrah Rajdhani is the first fully air-conditioned train, as well as the first Rajdhani train. It is the most senior of all the Rajdhanis . It is also the first train in India which provide free wi-fi access.

It is regularly hauled by a WAP 7 locomotive of Howrah and Ghaziabad . Sometimes as an off link it is hauled by WAP 4 locomotive of Howrah.


  • History 1
  • Accommodations 2
  • Traction 3
  • Destinations 4
    • First route 4.1
    • Second route 4.2
    • Trivia 4.3
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The idea of introducing Rajdhani express which would be the first full fledged completely air-conditioned, well-appointed superfast express train met with consternation and criticism as this could be perceived as a chariot of the affluent classes in the high noon of Indian government's socialist phase. There was also a fear of the proposed speed leap from 100 kmph(the maximum permissible speed of express trains in India) to 136 kmph for trial runs of Rajdhani express. So much and so deep the trepidation was that it prompted an engineer-in-chief to switch his job rather than be part of the venture. According to A.K. Banerji, a member of the select committee at RSDO which conceptualized and put into operation the Rajdhani express, his team was not welcomed in many places. The team's proposal to the zonal railways whose territories the Rajdhani express would be crossing met with oppositions, one after another. According to Banerji, RSDO was able to be persistent and steadfast in the materialization of its plan chiefly because of two reasons. The civil aviation being at its inception, it was imperative and perhaps necessary to introduce high speed railway connectivity between metropolitan cities to allow elite business travelers travel overnight, conduct business meetings and seminars and catch the train back home next day afternoon and thus save the hotel fare. The new train would just do that by drastically reducing the travel time from 24 hours (by the then fastest train on the Howrah-New Delhi route - the air-conditioned express, introduced in 1955, later renamed as Poorva Express) to 17 hours. Secondly, there was a compelling desire at least within the RSDO team to boast a sense of achievement for the Indian Railways in the wake of new pinnacles and breakthroughs achieved in the West in the realm of railways with train speeds reaching record high 160 kmph to 200 kmph. Banerji who retired as the General Manager of the Central railways felt, his engineers knew that laying new end-to-end track to run phenomenally fast trains in a vast nation rife with poverty would be a fantasy. However the team believed that by selective infrastructural improvements from rolling stock to tracks, bridges and signaling equipment it could come close to realize its dream. When the realization phase was nearing its end, a six month phase ensued when an empty 'Shadow Express' was run up and down Howrah-New Delhi tracks at the desirable speed with iron sleepers simulating the weight of the passengers. The dream of RSDO had been achieved.

The Howrah Rajdhani express was introduced on 1st March, 1969. It was flagged-off from New Delhi at 5:30 pm for Howrah and arrived at Howrah at 10:50 am hrs next morning. The New Delhi bound Rajdhani express departed from Howrah at 5:00 pm on 3rd March, 1969 and arrived at New Delhi at 10:20 am next morning. It was initially a bi-weekly train with coach composition as below:

Brake/Luggage/Generator, AC I, AC Pantry cum Lounge, AC Chair, AC Chair, AC Chair, AC Chair, Brake/Luggage/Generator

It was hauled by a single WDM-4 locomotive. It left Howrah on Wednesdays and Saturdays and left New Delhi on Mondays and Fridays. The booked speed for the train was 115 kmph while maximum permissible speed limit was 120 kmph. At that time it was the only train allowed to run at such a speed. It covered a distance of 1441 km in 17 hours 20 minutes. The ticket issued for the journey cost Rs 280 for AC First and Rs 90 for AC Chair Car. The train used to run via Grand Chord (Sitarampur - Mughalsarai via Gaya). It used to have no intermediate passenger stop, however it had technical halt at Gomoh, Mughalsarai and Kanpur Central for refilling of the overhead water tank and to replenish the on-board catering stores. Passengers could sit in the lounge next to Pantry Car and read magazines and play cards. Such recreational accessories were supplied free of cost in the lounge.

The AC equipment of each coach was of 'Stone Career Automatic System' which allowed electric heating to be automatically switched on during cold weather. The AC First coach used to have 3 cabins with each cabin comprising of 4 berths and 3 coupes with each coupe containing 2 berths. Each cabin and coupe had privacy curtains in addition to lockable doors, extra-wide windows, window curtain, carpets, sunk-in upper berth, night lamps and switch to coax a bell to summon the attendant as and when required.

The AC Chair Car coaches used to have accommodations for 71 passengers. Both AC First as well as AC Chair Car Coaches were provided with foot-operated wash basins. Many of these features do not resemble the standard features of modern Indian Railways Rolling Stocks.

Power was generated at the rate of 440V AC and was fed to each coach through interconnected coach couplers. There was also a 24V emergency lighting arrangement in each coach with the required power to be supplied from the storage batteries underneath in the event of a power failure.

In April 1971, the Northern Railway (NR) introduced a quota of 10 seats in the AC Chair Car of the train for Howrah-Kanpur passengers and 10 seats for Howrah-New Delhi passengers. Thus Kanpur also became a passenger stop for the Howrah Rajdhani Express. Eventually Mughalsarai was also turned into a passenger cum technical stop. Dhanbad was newly introduced as a passenger stop. The stoppage from Gomoh was removed.

In Nov 1, 1971, the maximum speed limit of Howrah Rajdhani Express was increased from 120 kmph to 130 kmph. This also reduced the running time for the Up train by 30 minutes and Down train by 45 minutes. The departure and arrival time of the Up train were rescheduled as : HWH: 5:10 pm, NDLS: 10:00 am The departure and arrival time of the Down train were rescheduled as : NDLS: 6:10 pm, HWH: 10:45 am

Till May, 1972, Howrah Rajdhani used to be the only Rajdhani express in India. On May, 17, 1972, New Delhi-Bombay Central Rajdhani express was introduced. Thus, for another two decades(1972-1992), Indian Railways would have two Rajdhani expresses dominating in the realm high speed long distance connectivity.

By August 1972, the frequency of Howrah Rajdhani had been increased and the train was making substantial profit to the range to Rs 20000 to Rs 30000 per trip.

Even though, Howrah-New Delhi trunk route via Grand-Chord had been fully electrified by 1976, Howrah Rajdhani used to be hauled by a WDM-4. These WDM-4s had superior bogie design which meant they could accelerate faster and brake at higher speeds. They were also rated at 130 kmph, a little above other WDM-4 locomotives with a maximum permissible speed limit of 120 kmph. Mughalsarai had workshop and maintenance facilities for these special WDM-4 locomotives which justified the 12 minutes halt of Howrah Rajdhani express at Mughalsarai. Sometimes the locomotive would also change here.

Indian Railways felt the necessity of introducing a new electric locomotive for Howrah Rajdhani express to promote higher speed economically, Howrah-New Delhi route having already been fully electrified. Thus, CLW received the commission of building the first WAP-1 locomotive in 1980 with a matching livery. But it was not until 1983 that the train would be hauled by WAP-1. The WAP-1 AC electric locomotive could haul 18 coaches of Rajdhani at a speed of 120 kmph. By that time, the coaches of Howrah Rajdhani had been augmented with new AC 2 tier coaches being introduced. Usually a single WAP-1 loco from Ghaziabad shed would haul the train through late 1980s though occasionally twin WAP-1 could also be spotted. Later, WAP-2 locomotives were also used to pull the train sometimes. In 1986, the train got air-brakes. In the event of failure of the regular WAP-1 locomotive, a WAG-7 was used to haul the train as WAG-7 was at that time one of the rarer locomotives to be equipped with air-brakes. It was also the first train to be hauled by WAP-5 locomotive. In the early days of the WAP-5 locos, the train was hauled by WAP-1 locos on Tuesdays and Fridays (when it went through Patna) and dual WDM-2 locos hauled it from Mughalsarai onwards.

In 1992, RDSO/ICF develop high-capacity (250kVA) power cars for Howrah Rajdhani.

In 1993, AC-3 Tier coaches were introduced in Howrah Rajdhani via Main Line(Patna). Thus, Howrah Rajdhani would boast a coach combination of AC Chair Cars, AC 3-Tiers, AC 2-Tiers and AC First.

Based the popularity of the Howrah Rajdhani, the Sealdah Rajdhani Express was made functional. Sealdah is another railway station in Kolkata.

12302 Howrah Rajdhani Express - AC First Class
12302 Howrah Rajdhani Express at Howrah Junction
12302 Howrah Rajdhani Express - AC 2 tier
12302 Howrah Rajdhani Express - AC 3 tier


Interior of a First Class AC bedroom

The trains have high priority on the Indian railway network and are fully air-conditioned. Passengers are provided with complimentary meals during the journey. Depending on the timing of the train, lunch, high tea, dinner, morning tea or breakfast are served. The trains offer three classes of accommodation: First Class AC with 2 or 4 berth lockable bedrooms, Second Class AC 2-tier with open system berths (bays of 4 berths + 2 berths on the side) but provided with curtains for privacy & reading lamps, Second Class AC 3-tier (bays of 6 berths + 2 berths on the side) with privacy curtains in some newer coaches. Interestingly, this Rajdhani boasts of the maximum number of AC 2-Tier coaches among any other train of Indian Railways, with 5 AC 2-tier coaches. Generally it has 2 First AC, 5 AC 2-Tiers, up to 10 AC 3-Tiers ( both of which may be increased according to demand), 2 AC Hot Buffet Cars (i.e. Pantry Cars) & 2 Luggage/Parcel cum Generator cum Brake van one of which is provided with the Guards' cabin.


It is hauled by a WAP 7 of Ghaziabad or Howrah Shed


The train is an important link between Kolkata and New Delhi. It runs near some of the most holy sites in India, including Allahabad, Gaya, and Parasnath. It also connects the financial capital of Uttar Pradesh, Kanpur, to Delhi and Kolkata.

The train follows two routes. The train runs the first route, Grand Chord via Gaya, from Monday through Saturday (from Howrah), and the second route, Howrah-Delhi main line via Patna, on Friday.

First route

The major stops on the first route are:

On this route, the train covers a distance of 1,451 km in 17 hr.

Second route

The major stops on the second route are:

On this route, the train covers a distance of 1,530 km in 19 hr and 35 min.


  • Howrah Rajdhani is the first Indian train to have two AC first class coaches, and occasionally an extra AC-1 coach may be added.
  • Howrah Rajdhani has 3 rakes maintained by Eastern Railway.Two rakes simultaneously haul 12301 and 12302 while the other rake leaves Howrah as 12305 and returns the next day as 12306

See also


  • Times of India article

External links

  • Route of Rajdhani Express (12301)
  • Route of Rajdhani Express (12302)
  • Route of Rajdhani Express (12305)
  • Route of Rajdhani Express (12306)
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