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Indian Railway has introduced short distance train service, which connect major Indian cities, is better known to us now as ‘Vande Bharat Express’. Similar to Shatabdi Express, these are day train services connecting cities, which are in a distance of less than a day’s time.
RDSO (Research Designs and Standards Organisation) unit of railways situated in Lucknow played key role in designing Vande Bharat Express. These trains are manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai. It is a flagship project under the “Make in India” initiative and highlights India’s engineering skill and technological advancement. The manufacturing cost of 16 coach Vande Bharat train is about ₹115 crore (US$14 million). It was made for low-cost maintenance and operational optimization.
In 2016, with the speed of 160km/hr, Gatimaan Express was inaugurated as the country’s first semi-high-speed service. The train ran on the newly upgraded Grade A line between Tughlakabad and Agra Cantonment.
There were number of proposals by foreign countries for introducing semi-high-speed capable EMUs in India, but none was successful due to cost issue. ICF, Chennai took the challenge to manufacture EMU coaches with minimum cost. The target for these trains to be operational was 2018, so they were named ‘Train-2018’ and later ‘Train 18’. As an acknowledgement for the fact that it was completely built in India with the efforts of the Indian engineers and skills, these trains are named as ‘Vande Bharat Express’.
It was recognised as the fastest EMU train in India during its trial runs, which touched a speed of 180 km/h. The overall best record exists in India till date is 184 km/h achieved by WAP-5 Class locomotive back in 1997.
1st Vande Bharat Express
First Vande Bharat Express between New Delhi and Varanasi was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 15th February 2019. The train ran from New Delhi to Varanasi via Kanpur and Prayagraj, connecting Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi to the capital city of India. The travel time drastically reduced to 8 hr for this 762 km journey, compared to 10 hr with normal express trains.
Replacement of Shatabdis
Shatabdi trains were introduced in 1988 with intention to save travel time for short distance commute and to connect major Indian cities. With introduction of Vande Bharat trains, it is now planned to phase out Shatabdi Express trains in timely manner.
Vande Bharat Express is truly modern types of trains that are owned by India. The passengers have the option to book CC (Chair Car) or ECC (Executive Chair Car). It offers airline-style seating arrangements with rotatable seats for comfort and convenience. With on-board catering, it has facility to deliver nourishment throughout the journey. All coached with large windows allows passengers to enjoy scenic beauty while traveling. For entertainment & infotainment purpose free onboard Wi-Fi is provided along with electric outlets and reading lights for those who prefer to read or work.
The train’s design also takes into consideration passengers’ safety and hygiene, with features such as automatic doors, smoke alarms, CCTV cameras, an odor control system, bio-vacuum toilets, and sensor-based water taps. Roller blinds offer privacy and control over natural light, and overhead racks provide ample storage for baggage.
With these modern facilities along with modern technical features, the train was one of its kind in the country and marked a leap into the future.
The incapacity of Indian railway tracks put brakes on the speed of Vande Bharat Express, which restrict speed of most of these trains below 160km/h. According to maximum permissible speed, the Gatimaan Express and Hazrat Nizamuddin – Rani Kamalapati Vande Bharat Express are the fastest trains in India as their maximum permissible speed during the Tughlakabad–Agra segment only is 160 km/h.
As per latest media reports, While the trains are designed to run at a speed of 110 kmph to 130 kmph, the average running speed on the ground ranges between 63 to 96 kilometres per hour. With trains running at far lesser than full speed, journeys get longer and more unattractive at premium price of these trains.
Fare of Vande Bharat Express ranges from ₹1000 to ₹3000 depending upon class and distance of travel. Fare of Vande Bharat trains for AC Chair Car and EC is more than double of similar trains running on the same routes. Also, certain routes of Vande Bharat train were running on low occupancy, due to low demand.
To tackle this issue, Ministry of Railways has decided to introduce discounted fare scheme in trains with AC sitting accommodation. The fares of AC chair car, executive classes of all trains, including Vande Bharat, reduced by up to 25% in July this year.
Tickets of Vande Bharat Express can be booked from multiple platforms. You can use IRCTC Website for ticket booking on the link: IRCTC Ticket Booking
For further information about Train List, Route Map, Timing of Train you can read our article: Vande Bharat Express: The Fastest Train in India’s History!!
Vande Metro Service
Indian Railways is planning to launch “Vande Metro” service that will operate on a short-distance, intercity rail network to connect major cities within a distance of around 100 to 120 km. This service will become a replacement for the existing MEMU services for regional rail connectivity between any two big cities. The maximum permissible speed of these trains will be 130 km/h and the train is likely to run at a very high frequency (4-5 times a day).
Vande Sadharan Services
Indian railways announced plan to make Non-AC Vandhe Sadharan with sleeper and general coaches for long-distance travel. The objective behind this initiative is to provide more affordable travel options to passengers. The Vande Sadharan trains aim to offer similar amenities as the Vande Bharat trains but at more budget-friendly prices.