Tickets of the first commercial run of Train 18, which was recently rechristened Vande Bharat Express has been completely sold out, as mentioned by a senior Indian Railways official on Friday. The train bookings were opened to the public only on Thursday for its maiden commercial journey on February 17 but were sold out by 11:15 am. "The first commercial run of the train on February 17 is fully booked. The train is 100 per cent occupied on its to and fro journeys as of 11.15 am Thursday," said Girish Pillai, Member, Traffic, Railway Board.
An air-conditioned chair car ticket from Delhi to Varanasi is priced at Rs 1,760, while an executive class ticket is priced at Rs 3,310. On the return journey, a chair car ticket is priced at Rs 1,700 while an executive class ticket is priced at Rs 3,260. The ticket fares are inclusive of catering charges. Meals onboard will be served from popular restaurant chain Pind Balluchi as well as from The Landmark Hotel.
"The menu is in the last stages of being finalised and that the food served to passengers will be from known restaurants in Allahabad (Prayagraj) and Kanpur. We are looking to tie-up with known restaurants and brands so that a premium experience can be offered to passengers of the Vande Bharat Express," an IRCTC official had said a couple of days before the launch.
The fare of the train is 1.4 times the base fare of Shatabdi Express that runs on the same distance. As for the executive class, the fares are 1.3 times of the premier trains that will eventually be replaced by Train 18.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal who was onboard during the inaugural run said that tendering process of thirty more similar train sets has begun. He said several routes have been identified. "Also, we will modernise tracks in some routes to support such high speed trains. Our vision is that slowly the 'golden quadrilateral' and its two laterals are prepared for 160 kmps speed," he said. "It is a manifestation of our engineering talent and is a pride of the railways and the country. It's a matter of pride that the train set has been built by our engineers and workers. Its top speed is 180 km," said the minister.
The Vande Bharat Express was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 15. The Prime Minister also took the opportunity to speak about the Pulwama attack on CRPF jawans. "A grateful nation bows to the martyrs of Pulwama. A befitting reply will be given to the perpetrators of the heinous attack and their patrons. No force will succeed in disturbing peace, progress and stability of India," the leader had said.
PM Modi, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal and the attendees observed two minutes of silence for the fallen soldiers.