New Delhi: Indian Railways has made a significant move to enhance passenger experience by extending the route of the Banaras-Sambalpur bi-weekly Express. The service will now connect Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, with Sambalpur Railway Station in Odisha. The inauguration of the extended service was marked by the joint flag-off ceremony led by Minister of Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw and Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
Regular operations of the Banaras-Sambalpur-Banaras Express will commence with its trial run conducted from Sambalpur to Visakhapatnam on Monday. The train will officially start its regular service on the extended route starting from Visakhapatnam on November 22, followed by its journey from Banaras on November 23.
The extension to Visakhapatnam has been executed without disrupting the established timings and stops between Sambalpur and Banaras.
Rebranded as the Visakhapatnam-Banaras Express, the train will operate under the identification numbers 18311/18312.
The schedule for the train includes its departure from Visakhapatnam at 4:10 am every Wednesday and Sunday. On its return journey, train number 18312, the Banaras-Visakhapatnam Express, will depart from Banaras at 3:00 pm every Thursday and Monday.
The train will make stops at key stations such as Bargarh Rd, Balangir, Kesinga, Titilagarh, Muniguda, Parvatipuram, Rayagada, Bobbili, Vizianagaram, and Kottavalasa.
The extension has lengthened the distance between the destinations from 895 km to 1400 km. Consequently, the travel time has also increased from 20 hours and 25 minutes to approximately 28 hours and 30 minutes.
Equipped with LHB Coaches, the train will feature six second-class seating, eight sleeper classes (temporarily nine), four AC-3 tier, and one AC-2 tier. Additionally, the train will include a guard cum luggage coach and a coach for passengers with disabilities, along with a power car.
This extension is expected to greatly benefit travelers commuting between Andhra Pradesh, Southern India, and Western Odisha for various purposes like medical treatments, education, and business. Moreover, it aims to bolster tourism and cultural exchanges by providing direct connectivity between Banaras and Visakhapatnam.