The epic 2,600-mile train journey that takes more than 74 hours from start to finish | World | News

The rumbling rhythm of a train carriage is to adults what the soft back-and-forth motion of a cradle is to babies. There are few more pleasurable means of long-distance travel than by train, a mode that strikes at the heart of a country while simultaneously offering all the creature comforts of home.

Operators around the world compete to offer the best journeys, be it a warm private sleeper berth clad with all the bells and whistles of the 21st century, or a stripped-back spartan locomotive whose only comfort is a thin wooden bench.

The gulf in class may sound silly, but when it comes to train travel, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Though a route that straddles the length of India may sound nightmarish to some, it couldn’t sound better to others.

For those who would jump at the chance, the Dibrugarh to Kanniyakumari Vivek Express has you covered: a monster route that is the longest of any Indian Railways line, and one that is filled with the promise of excitement to rival any such journey.

Unlike many of India’s other routes which have been rolling to and fro for hundreds of years, the Dibrugarh–Kanyakumari Vivek Express has only been in service since 2011.

It consists of four pairs of Express Trains on the network, launched to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, an Indian Hindu monk.

More than 4,000 kilometres (2,485 miles) are covered from the route’s beginning in India’s northeastern state of Assam to Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, the country’s southernmost state.

It takes an estimated 74 hours and 35 minutes, which, relative to the distance, is an extraordinarily short amount of time.

On its route, the locomotive passes through eight states and stops no less than 55 times.

Those stations include ones such as Tinsukia, Dimapur, Guwahati, Bongaigaon, Alipurduar, Siliguri, Kishanganj, Malda, Rampurhat, Pakur, Durgapur, Asansol, Kharagpur, Balasore, Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Khordha, Brahmapur, Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, Samalkot, Rajahmundry, Eluru, Vijayawada, Ongole, Nellore, Renigunta, Vellore, Salem, Erode, Coimbatore, Palakkad, Thrissur, Aluva, Ernakulam, Kottayam, Chengannur, Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram and Nagercoil.

Believe it or not, though the route is India’s longest, it ranks just 28th on a list of the world’s longest journeys, mostly behind routes undertaken in Russia and China.

It has run pretty much constantly since its inception in 2011 apart from a brief hiatus due to the coronavirus lockdown, when it became famous as the last train to halt its services in India following the nationwide lockdown in March 2020.

So, what can one expect from travelling on this service? Well, there are multiple classes to begin with. The most hardy and penny-pinching travellers might opt for unreserved 3rd class and experience the desperate push for a seat in a carriage without A/C. Though how difficult you want to make your journey is entirely up to you.

Others might opt for the sleeper carriage, or perhaps 3rd with A/C. There’s also the slightly more comfortable 2nd with A/C, not to mention the smart End-on Generator car (EOG) that comes with electrical and storage facilities for passengers.

Of course, the daddy of all classes comes in the so-called pantry class, where travellers are privy not only to the comforts of top-class seats but A/C and a hot buffet.

Prices vary and depend and a multitude of factors, like the time of booking and class of carriage, among other things.

When checked, average prices for adults were as follows: Sleeper ₹1,065 (£10), 3rd class A/C ₹2,669 (£25), 2nd class A/C ₹4,031 (£38), and unreserved general fare ₹645 (£6).

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