Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had announced last month that the newly-launched superfast Vande Bharat Express, also known as Train 18, will soon run on three new routes, Bangalore-Mangalore, Mangalore-Hyderabad and Chennai-Mangalore.
The latest buzz is that the upcoming trainsets will boast more local components, giving a boost to the Modi government's Make in India initiative. Almost 130 of these engine-less, semi-high speed trains - India's fastest currently - are reportedly on anvil over the next few years.
In the case of the first Train 18, which rolled out of the Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in 2018, although the Railways tried to tap its existing Indian vendor base to keep costs low, it wasn't completely successful.
A few components, the glass windows for one, had to be imported as the Indian vendors wanted higher and assured volumes to provide better quality products, The Hindu Business Line reported.
While the second Train 18, scheduled to roll out of ICF this month, will also sport imported glass, the third one will sport Slick glasses on windows that are 'Made in India'.
These windows will be shatter-proof to boot. The third Train 18 on, the window screens will boast "laminated glass" like those used on cars, which crack but do not break.
Saint Gobain is one of the companies making such products in the country and has supplied glass for the glass-roofed Vistadome coaches used by the Indian Railways in tourist locations.
At present, the windows of the Train 18 are layered with "shatter-proof polymer film, which crack", officials told the daily.
In addition, the subsequent Train 18s will also boast improvements over the first trainset. Like seats where the lower portion can be pulled or shifted out by five inches against three currently, providing more comfort to passengers.
These seats are based on the latest European trends. Moreover, the new trains will reportedly also have two centimetres lower space per seat in order to create space for food carts.
A day after the Vande Bharat Express' inauguration, when it broke down 200 km outside Delhi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had taken to Twitter to criticise the premium train.
"Modi ji, I think Make in India needs a serious rethink. Most people feel it has failed," he had tweeted. The above moves by the Railways are a clear attempt to prove the Opposition wrong.The 130 upcoming trainsets are expected to cover about 50-60 routes depending on the route length. It is expected to compete with flights particularly in mid-distance segment routes such as Bengaluru-Chennai, Pune-Mumbai, Delhi-Chandigarh and Delhi-Jaipur.
According to reports Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli, will also be roped in to handle the increased production of these trains.
(Edited by Sushmita Choudhury Agarwal)