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Future of Railway Travel in India @ Vande Bharat

“400 new-generation Vande Bharat Trains with better energy efficiency and passenger riding experience will be developed and manufactured during the next three years”, FM Nirmala Sitharaman said while presenting Union Budget 2022-23.

What is Vande Bharat?

1. Vande Bharat Express, also known as Train 18 (T-18) is India's first Semi High Speed Train.

2. It is a collection of 16 coaches, self-propelled, and does not require an engine to haul them. This is called distributed traction power (also known as Trainset technology). This technology is increasingly becoming the norm world over, as opposed to conventional system of Passenger coaches hauled by separate locomotives.

3. Vande Bharat Express has 16 air-conditioned coaches with Chair Car type configuration with 2 Executive Class Chair Cars and 14 Chair Cars.

4. The total seating capacity is 1,128 passengers. The seating capacity is much more than the conventional Shatabdi rake with an equal number of coaches, thanks to shifting of all electric equipment below the coaches and seats in the driving coach also.

5. It can achieve high speeds (max speed of 160 km/h) due to faster acceleration and deceleration and reduces journey time by 25 to 45 per cent. Vande Bharat Express is capable of running at 180 km/h but currently runs at a maximum permissible speed of 160 km/h. This is due to the lack of rail tracks which can support such a high speed. Only the Delhi-Agra track can support 160 km/h trains in a small part. Even the current Vande Bharat trains running on the Delhi-Varanasi corridor are running at 130 km/h between Delhi and Prayagraj and at 110 km/h on the Prayagraj-Varanasi section.

6. The Vande Bharat self-propelled train set does not need any locomotive to pull it, hence also reducing the turnaround time, something that is important for railways.

7. All coaches are equipped with automatic entry/exit doors with sliding footsteps, CCTVs; GPS based audio-visual passenger information system and on-board Wi-Fi for entertainment purposes.

8. The trains have fully sealed gangways for dust-free environment, modular bio-vacuum toilets, rotating seats in Executive Class, personalised reading lights, diffused LED lighting, mini pantry and sensor-based interconnecting doors in each coach.

9. Any new technology we bring in should be viewed from the perspective of passenger… reduced noise levels, reduced vibration, better safety and experience.

10. The 400 new Vande Bharat train sets announced in the budget are going to be made of light-weight aluminum, as against steel, marking a departure from India’s traditional choice of metal for making its coaches. Since these trains will be made of aluminum, each train set is around 50 tonnes lighter in weight, consuming much less energy than their counterparts made of steel.

11. Payback Period: Assuming cost of Rs.100 cr per train and Passenger return fare of Rs. 1,600 per day and capacity utilisation of 80%, running 6 days a week, operating expenses of 30%, Payback period is 30 months.

New train lines having speeds in excess of 250 km/h, and existing lines in excess of 200 km/h are generally considered to be high speed. High speed rail combines many different elements which constitute a whole, "integrated system” such as telecommunications, operating conditions and equipment, etc.

After 22 months of launching Vande Bharat Express for Katra, Indian Railways awarded the contract for manufacturing 44 more such trains at an estimated cost of Rs 2,211 crore (@ Rs. 50 cr per train) with a minimum of 75 % local content requirement of the total value of the tender.

With the latest (new) tender, 102 such trains would be commissioned by March 2024, with 75 of them available by August 15, 2023 itself.

Impact of this train, matching global standards of performance, safety and passenger comfort and yet costing less than half of global prices, has the potential to be a game changer in the global rail business

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