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PM flags off India's fastest train Vande Bharat Express

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: February 15, 2019  | 14:22 IST

(Eds: Adding more quotes) New Delhi, Feb 15 (PTI) India's first semi-high speed train, the Vande Bharat Express, was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday from the New Delhi Railway Station amid sombre mood in the backdrop of the terror attack in Pulwama. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and members of the Railway Board were present on the occasion and will be on board the train on its inaugural journey "I am grateful to designers and engineers behind Vande Bharat Express which will take its first trip from Delhi to Varanasi today. With our sincerity and hardwork in the last 4.5 years we have tried to improve railways," the PM said. Hailing the great strides taken by railways over the years, Modi said that the train was representative of the strength of "ek bharat, shretha bharat." He said railways was one of those sectors which has developed in manufacturing, modernisation of rail coach factories, conversion of diesel coaches to electric and set up new factories under Make in India. "Earlier you remember the condition in which the railways' online reservation system was. In a minute it allowed only around 2000 tickets to be booked, now railways' website has become user friendly and in one minute over 20,000 tickets can be booked on it. Earlier, the condition was such that it would take minimum two years to get approval for one railway project, now it is done in a maximum of six months. It is efforts like these which has speeded up railways work," said Modi. He further appreciated the work done by the railways in eliminating unmanned level crossings which have reduced accidents, converting narrow gauge into broad gauge and electrification. "The efforts to modernise railways has also generated employment. I have been told that from 2014 to now, around 1.5 lakh employees have been appointed in railways. After additional recruitment this number will reach 2.25 lakh. I am not claiming that we have changed everything in Indian Railways in the last few years, we never claimed that. "Even now a lot needs to be done, however I can say that we are going full throttle to make a modern railways," he said. The PM said he was assuring the people that this government will back development across all sectors. In its inaugural run, Vande Bharat Express will travel from Delhi to Varanasi in nine hours and forty-five minutes. This includes stoppage time of 40 minutes each at Kanpur and Allahabad where there will be special programmes. The PM inspected the train and said he was proud that such a train had been produced indigenously at the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai in 18 months. The semi-high speed Train 18, which has been recently rechristened Vande Bharat Express, can run up to a maximum speed of 160 kmph and has travel classes like Shatabdi trains but with better facilities. It aims to provide a totally new travel experience to passengers. The bookings for the train have begun and it will run commercially from February 17 from Delhi to Varanasi five days a week. It has 16 air-conditioned coaches of which two are executive class. The total seating capacity is 1,128 passengers. It is much more than the conventional Shatabdi rakes of equal number of coaches, thanks to shifting of all electric equipment below coaches and seats in the driving coach also. All coaches are equipped with automatic doors, GPS-based audio-visual passenger information system, on-board hotspot WiFi for entertainment purposes and very comfortable seating. All toilets are bio-vacuum type. The lighting is dual mode, that is diffused for general illumination and personal for every seat. Every coach has a pantry facility to serve hot meals and, hot and cold beverages. The insulation is meant to keep heat and noise to very low levels for additional passenger comfort. Adding up the green footprints, the train has regenerative braking system which can save up to 30 per cent of electrical energy. PTI ASG AG ASG DV DV

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