As storm clouds gather and visibility drops for the evening, the RNC NDLS Raj express speeds out of the Ranchi railway station.

RANCHI RAJDHANI PASSENGER EXPRESS.

Making the long haul in pairs.

To handle a burgeoning number of wayfarers without overworking any of its trains, India’s elite long distance express service, the Rajdhani, designates two trains on any single route.

On the 1341 km stretch that connects Ranchi to Delhi via the town of Daltonganj, the RNC NDLS RAJ EXP and the NDLS RNC RJDHNI are two among four distant marathoners that ferry over a thousand passengers to their destination twice a week. To railway personnel, they are better known by their serial numbers: 12453 and the 12454.

Hauled by a new age WAP series locomotive capable of tugging a minimum of 24 German built LBH coaches on a broad gauge track, the super fast trains depart early evening to cover the maximum length of the distance during the night. Passing en route, some large tracts of picturesque Indian countryside sprinkled with lesser known waystations, villages, and towns that lies between the two capitals – stopping only at four major stations.

The twins, like any twins, are not completely identical. The 12453 works Thursdays and Saturdays making its run at 74 kmph from Ranchi to Delhi, while the 12454 works Wednesdays and Saturdays running at a top speed of 70 kmph from Delhi to Ranchi. Each departing and arriving at different hours, yet always close to the pre-scheduled time.

Presently, forty Rajdhani express trains operate in different parts of the country, covering about 80 stations and travelling a combined distance of 73,710kms to and fro.