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Vande Bharat Express exclusive: Second engine-less Train 18 to roll out in May; 3 more expected this year

Smriti Jain
Second Vande Bharat Express to roll out in May

Vande Bharat Express: Indian Railways is gearing up to roll out the second rake of the engine-less Vande Bharat Express in the first week of May. Vande Bharat Express, also called the Train 18 after the year it was first manufactured in, is a semi-high speed self-propelled train that has brought about a technological shift in rail travel in India. Manufactured by Integral Coach Factory (ICF) Chennai under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, the Vande Bharat Express is a luxury air-conditioned chair car train service that will eventually replace Shatabdi Express trains on the Indian Railways network. According to an ICF official that Financial Express Online spoke to, the second rake of Vande Bharat Express is expected to be ready by the first week of May.

“The first rake of Train 18 or Vande Bharat Express was a prototype. Based on the feedback from it, we are making modifications in the second rake,” the ICF official said. “The timeline for rollout is May first week,” the official added. ICF has been given an ambitious production target of 10 Vande Bharat Express rakes for this financial year. But, sources told Financial Express Online that after the May rollout, only three more rakes are likely to be ready in this year. “Optimistically speaking, the third rake will be ready by October, the fourth by December and one more in February 2020,” sources told Financial Express Online.

The new Vande Bharat will have special frames in its windows to make the glass “shatter-proof”. The move assumes significance due to several incidents of stone pelting on the Delhi-Varanasi Vande Bharat Express which have damaged the window glasses. The new Vande Bharat Express will also have a bigger pantry compared to the first one since the engine-less train service may serve longer distances. In such a case passengers would be served two meals, hence requiring more storage space.

Delhi-Varanasi Vande Bharat Express

The Delhi-Varanasi Vande Bharat Express departs from New Delhi at 6:00 AM to reach Varanasi at 2:00 PM. On the return journey, it leaves Varanasi at 3:00 PM the same day to reach Delhi at 11:00 PM. The train takes 8 hours from originating to terminating station in both directions, stopping at Allahabad (Prayagraj) and Kanpur. The fares of Vande Bharat are inclusive of meal charges; costing Rs 1,755 and Rs 3,300 for AC Chair Car and Executive Chair car respectively.

Vande Bharat Express, with a bullet train like aerodynamic design, offers several new passenger amenities such as automatic doors with sliding footsteps, bio-vacuum toilets, European-style seats, rotating chairs in the Executive class, attendant call buttons, aircraft-like dim LED lighting, personalised reading lights, car-style push forward reclining system, GPS-based passenger information system, swanky pantry, fully sealed gangways and on-board infotainment.

The engine-less self-propelled system allows for faster acceleration and deceleration, hence reducing journey time. The regenerative braking system saves on energy. Vande Bharat Express became Indian Railways’ fastest train during trials by clocking speeds of over 180 kmph. The operational speed of the train is 160 kmph.