The Vande Bharat concept of Indian Railways seems to have turned out to be a huge hit among travellers. It is gaining popularity with every passing day. Among the dozen odd trains which are currently running, Nagpur-Bilaspur-Nagpur train have clocked more that 100 per cent occupancy within a short period post its introduction. In fact, this is the first Vande Bharat train to be introduced by the Railways. It was flagged-off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Nagpur Railway Station in November 2022. A look at the occupancy of Vande Bharat trains for the month of October, eight trains have reflected overwhelming thumbs-up from passengers to Nagpur-Bilaspur-Nagpur circuit train. As per Railways, Train No 20826 Nagpur-Bilaspur Exp occupancy has reached 102.42%, and nearly 14657 passengers travelled on the Express. In fact, on Bilaspur-Nagpur route, the usage is nearly 112.69 per cent, as about 16,127 passengers travelled by the train. Train No 20825 Bilaspur-Nagpur is the most preferred one and, as per analysts, the reason is that the highest number of travellers using this service are traders. Ex-Bilaspur, the train starts at 6.45 am and reaches here by 13.55 pm. As Nagpur market is one of the biggest in Central India, traders from Bilaspur and Raipur need to visit here quite frequently. This explains the high occupancy of these trains.
Ex-Nagpur, the Bilaspur bound Vande Bharat train leaves at 2.05 pm and reaches the destination by 7.25 pm. The under six-hour travel is quite a good time for the travellers in current context when other Mail/ Express train on the same route which take over eight hours to negotiate the same distance. The occupancy of other Vande Bharat trains are 22223 CSMT-Shirdi Exp- 75.39 %, 22111 passengers travelled, 22224 Shirdi-CSMT Exp- 75.56%, 22162 passengers; 22225 CSMT-Solapur Exp- 85.64%, 25780 passengers, 22226 Solapur-CSMT Exp- 94.50%, 28783 passengers; 22229 CSMT-Goa Madgaon Exp- 98.72%, 6802 passengers, 22230 Goa Madgaon-CSMT Exp- 96.89%, 6676 passengers. And the latest Vande Bharat from Indore to Nagpur and to Indore has already clocked occupancy of nearly 90 per cent. Apart from the popularity among the traders on Bilaspur and Nagpur Vande Bharat trains, Brij Bhushan Shukla, Member, Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee (DRUCC), Central Railway, Nagpur Division, explained that the said train has only eight bogies.
This explains the reason for over 100 per cent occupancy on either end of the Vande Bharat. The other Vande Bharat trains on other circuits have about 16 bogies. When the Nagpur-Bilaspur Vande Bharat was introduced it had 16 bogies but occupancy was not that satisfactory, hence Railways curtailed the coaches. Other reason for higher occupancy on daily basis on Bilaspur and Nagpur end of Vande Bharat could be close cultural ties between two cities. Most of the people have common relatives at both places and on other cities on the route. The convenient timings and speedy travel is being taken advantage by the people as it saving time.