Soon, India will have a train that is superior to the two fastest trains in India - Shatabdi and Rajdhani Express. The much-awaited Train 18, which is set to be launched on December 25, is also better in terms of efficiency and performance. Reports suggest the train will start its commercial operation from as early as December 25 between New Delhi and Varanasi, which is also the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The indigenously-built Train 18 is the fastest train in India.
The train will cut the journey time by 15 per cent as compared to the 30-year-old Shatabdi Express. During a test run on Sunday, the Train 18 breached the 180 kmph speed. Officials said it can touch 200 kmph provided the entire railway system supports it. Train 18 is propelled through electric traction, similar to metro and local trains, and thus the need for a traditional engine will be dispensed.
The government plans to launch it on late prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's birth anniversary on December 25. "Christmas Day also happens to be the birthday of late Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and it would be a tribute to the great statesman of the country if we manage to launch the next-generation train on that day," a senior Railways official told IANS.
Route time and fare
The Train 18 will take eight hours in its journey from New Delhi to Varanasi, reducing the travel time by six hours. The train will start early morning at 6 am and will reach Varanasi by 2 pm. After a gap of half an hour, the train will start its return journey to Delhi. Fares are yet to be decided but they are likely to be higher than Shatabdi or Rajdhani Express.
The railway authorities have conducted all major trials and the results are satisfactory. "Train 18 breached the 180 kmph speed limit in the Kota-Sawai Madhopur section. The major trials are now over, with just some more remaining. Based on the reports, fine tuning would be done if needed. As of now, no major technical problem has cropped up," S Mani, General Manager of Integral Coach Factory (ICF) that has manufactured the train, told PTI.
Earlier, the government was also considering launching the train on the Delhi-Bhopal, Lucknow-Varanasi, Patna-Varanasi routes. The Chennai-based ICF has also started work on making the next Train 18, which will be ready by February 2019.
So what makes Train 18 so special? Here's a look at some of its premium features.
Make in India boost
The train was designed by the ICF with the help of consultants without any clause of technology transfer. Priced at over Rs 100 crore per rake, this hi-tech train will give a major boost to the government's Make in India campaign, besides putting the Indian Railways on par with the international railway systems.
Loaded with several state-of-the-art features, the Train 18 has 16 coaches -- two of which are executive-class. More than 80 per cent of Train 18 components have been manufactured in India. Each Train 18 coach costs Rs 6 crore, which is 40 per cent less than global standards.
IFC will manufacture six such trains in total, two of which will house sleeper coaches, and the project is expected to be completed by 2020.