Vande Bharat Express, Indian Railways fastest train commonly called Train 18, will begin commercial services today. The engine-less ‘Make in India’ Vande Bharat Express was flagged off by PM Narendra Modi on February 15 from New Delhi Railway Station. Conceptualised as a replacement for the Shatabdi Express brand of trains, the Vande Bharat Express aims offers a premium experience to passengers on the Delhi-Varanasi route. According to Indian Railways, the Vande Bharat Express completed its inaugural run successfully, but on the way back to Delhi it was stopped at Chamraula station, about 18 kms after crossing Tundla station. This was due to some communication issue between the last basic unit of 4 coaches with the rest of the train, caused possibly due to an external hit like a cattle run over. However, the new train set has been checked for faults and will begin its first commercial run as per schedule from today, that is February 17.
Vande Bharat Express schedule and stations:
Vande Bharat Express will stop at two stations on its over 750 kilometres journey from Delhi to Varanasi and vice-versa. These are Kanpur and Allahabad (now Prayagraj). The engine-less Train 18 will stop at both stations for 2 minutes each. Train number 22436 New Delhi-Varanasi Vande Bharat Express will depart from the New Delhi Railway Station at 6:00 AM to arrive in Varanasi at 2:00 PM. It will stop at Kanpur at 10:18 AM and Allahabad at 12:23 PM. On the way back the same day, Train number 22435 Varanasi-New Delhi Vande Bharat Express will leave Varanasi at 3:00 PM to reach Delhi at 11:00 PM. It will stop at Allahabad (Prayagraj) around 4:35 PM and at Kanpur at approximately 6:30 PM. Vande Bharat Express will run for five days a week – Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The self-propelled train set will undergo regular maintenance work on Monday and Thursday.
Vande Bharat Express fare:
The fares of Vande Bharat Express or Train 18 have been kept at 1.4 times Shatabdi Express for the AC Chair Car and 1.3 times of the Executive Class of Shatabdi Express. The fares of Train 18 are inclusive of the catering charges since passengers cannot opt out of meals when booking tickets. Only those passengers who book tickets between Allahabad (Prayagraj) and Varanasi or Varanasi and Allahabad will be able to opt out of meals. Below are the fares, as available on the IRCTC website:
- Delhi to Varanasi (AC Chair Car, Executive): Rs 1,755 and Rs 3,300
- Delhi to Kanpur (AC Chair Car, Executive): Rs 1,080 and Rs 2,085
- Delhi to Allahabad (AC Chair Car, Executive): Rs 1,385 and Rs 2,725
- Varanasi to Delhi (AC Chair Car, Executive): Rs 1,700 and Rs 3,250
- Varanasi to Allahabad (AC Chair Car, Executive): Rs 545 and Rs 1,050
- Varanasi to Kanpur (AC Chair Car, Executive): Rs 860 and Rs 1,690
Unlike its other premium offerings, Indian Railways has decided not to go for the flexi-fare system in Vande Bharat Express.
Vande Bharat Express IRCTC menu:
Passengers of the Vande Bharat Express will be treated with lavish food on board the Train 18. To give a luxurious experience, IRCTC has for the first time tied-up with a 5-star hotel, a branded restaurant chain and some well-known beverage providers. While passengers will get to binge on lunch from Allahabad’s Pind Balluchi, the dinner will be from Kanpur’s 5-star hotel, Landmark. Besides this, the tea will be from Chaayos. Some of the notable items on the breakfast and evening tea menu include; croissant, bruschetta, vegetable quiche, muffin, doughnut, vegetarian baked (not fried!) samosa.