Vande Bharat Express
|Vande Bharat Express|
|Service type||Higher-speed rail|
|First service||17 February 2019|
|Class(es)||Premium Class Executive Class|
|Catering facilities||On-board catering|
|Observation facilities||Large windows in all carriages|
|Entertainment facilities||Electric outlets|
|Baggage facilities||Overhead racks|
|Other facilities||Automatic doors |
Odour control system
Sensor based water taps
|Rolling stock||LHB rake|
|Track gauge||Indian gauge|
1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in) Broad Gauge
|Average length||376.64 metres (1,235.7 ft)|
Vande Bharat Express, also known as Train 18, is an Indian higher-speed intercity electric multiple unit. It was designed and built by Integral Coach Factory (ICF) at Perambur, Chennai under the Indian government's Make in India initiative over a span of 18 months. The unit cost of the first rake was given as ₹1 billion (US$14 million), though the unit cost is expected to go down with subsequent production. At the original price, it is estimated to be 40% cheaper than a similar train imported from Europe. The train was launched on 15 February 2019, by which date a second unit will have been produced and readied for service. The service was named 'Vande Bharat Express' on 27 January 2019. As of July 2020, the Indian Railways operates two Vande Bharat trains. In January 2021, Indian Railways awarded the contract for supply of propulsion and control equipment of 44 rakes to Medha Servo Drives, based at Hyderabad.
Vande Bharat Express is capable of operating at speeds of up to 180 km/h, but the actual top speed is only 130 km/h due to speed limit of railway track of routes which used by Vande Bharat Express.
Design and development
Train 18's exterior appearance consists of aerodynamic narrowing at each ends of the train. It has a driver coach at each end of the train, allowing for faster turnaround at each end of the line. The train has 16 passenger cars, with a seating capacity of 1,128 passengers. Two of the center compartments are first class compartments that seat 52 each, with the rest being coach compartments seating 78 each.
The train's seats, braking system, doors, and transformers are the only elements of the train to be outsourced, with plans to make them domestically on the production of the next unit. Train 18 employs a regenerative braking system.
Another unit is planned for production over the year 2020, along with four more units in 2021, for a total of six. The Railway Board has requested that ICF complete two of the new units by May 2019.  "As per the production programme issued by the Railway Board, this includes the second train coming out after the elections and third by October this year. After October, ICF will make one train every alternate month till March 2020 and one rake every month from April 2020." According to the Ministry of Railways earlier this year, Modern Coach Factory (MCF), Raebareli which has been a shining example of 'Make in India', will also manufacture more Vande Bharat Express train sets in the coming months.
Based on Vande Bharat Express, Train 19 was a proposed higher-speed, long distance electric multiple unit, manufactured by ICF. It was supposed to have sleeper coaches instead of seats, unlike Train 18.
The train's first trial run occurred on 29 October 2018 in Chennai, focusing on crew orientation and testing the train's brakes, with further testing scheduled to be done in Delhi on 7 November and later in Rajasthan. An Indian Railways official reported that "some fuses went off" during the trial in Chennai, but that the issue was minor and quickly fixed. The train ended up leaving for Delhi later than expected, on 11 November, and arrived on 13 November. Testing was set to commence along a section of track between Bareilly and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh on 17 November, but the location was subsequently changed to the stretch of rail between Moradabad and Rampur due to unspecified issues with the initial section of track. The Moradabad–Rampur testing occurred at low speeds ranging from 30–60 km/h (19–37 mph). After the lower-speed testing, the train was moved to a section of track between Kota and Sawai Madhopur to be tested at operating speed. During its trials, Train 18 reached speeds of 180 km/h (110 mph), the highest speed any train in India has reached in the trials but they restricted the speed to 130 km/h officially.
The train flagged off for an inaugural run by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, on 15 February 2019, with its commercial run started from 17 February 2019 onwards. It will be running on the Delhi-Varanasi route, via Kanpur and Prayagraj, connecting the holy city of Varanasi to the Capital city, reducing travel time along the route by 15 percent. The train's regenerative brakes are also expected to allow a 30% savings in electricity costs as compared to its predecessor. At an operating speed of 160 kilometres per hour (99 mph), it will outpace the Shatabdi Express by 30 kilometres per hour (19 mph). Although the trainset has been tested for speeds up to 180 km/h, operational speed has been capped at 130 km/h as an internal report by Indian Railways indicated that just 0.3% of the country's track is capable of supporting speeds of that magnitude. Every other car on the train is motorised. The 8-hour journey from New Delhi to Varanasi station has the Chair Car CC Class fare of ₹1,440.00 and covers the total distance of about 762 kilometers.
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Media related to Train 18 at Wikimedia Commons