India̵7;s first indigenous semi-high speed train – the Vande Bharat Express- has received rave response from the rail passengers as well as the BJP-led government of India. Every single Vande Bharat Express is inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself and is now operational across 17 routes in India. Launched in 2018, the Vande Bharat Express will get three versions – Vande Chair Car, Vande Metro and Vande Sleepers – by February-March next year, confirmed Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. The announcement was made at the inaugural run of Dehradun-Delhi Vande Bharat Express.
These indigenous semi-high speed trains, which are being prepped to replace Shatabdis, Rajdhanis and local trains, are being made at the Integrated Coach Factory in Chennai. In an interview with PTI, the Union minister also said that in the next three to four years, Indian Railways will upgrade its tracks to support the maximum speed of 160 kmph of Vande Bharat trains.
Vande Bharat Metro
“There are three formats of Vande Bharat. Vande Metro for less than 100 kilometres, Vande Chair Car for 100-550 kilometres and Vande Sleepers for a journey beyond 550 kilometres. These three formats will be ready by February-March (next year),” Vaishnaw said after the launch of a Vande Bharat train from Uttarakhand’s Dehradun to the Anand Vihar Terminal Railway Station in Delhi.
Vande Bharat Express Chair Car
The Delhi-Dehradun Vande Bharat Express was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Equipped with state-of-the-art amenities for passengers, the first such train for Uttarakhand reduces the journey time between state capital Dehradun and the national capital to four and a half hours from the six hours and 10 minutes it took the Dehradun-New Delhi Railway Station Shatabdi Express.
Vande Bharat Express Sleeper
Vaishnaw said the rail connectivity project between Rishikesh and Karnaprayag will be completed in two years and the railways is also working to connect villages located in border areas. The minister said almost every state will get a Vande Bharat train by mid-June. The production of these trains is being expedited, he said.
“Every eighth or ninth day, a new train is coming out of the factory. Work is going to start at two more factories. We will have a new train coming out of these factories once their supply chain gets stabilised,” Vaishnaw said.
Vande Bharat trains are designed with a top speed of 160 kmph but they will run at a speed of up to 130 kmph according to track capacity. “Old tracks were designed to support speeds between 70 and 80 kmph. Around 25,000-35,000 kilometres of tracks are being upgraded to support speeds of 110 kmph, 130 kmph and 160 kmph. It will be done in the next three to four years,” Vaishnaw said.
By 2027-28, 20,000-30,000 kilometres of track will be capable of running Vande Bharat trains at a speed of 160 kmph, he said and added that railway overhead power lines are also being upgraded to support high speed trains. Vaishnaw said the railway is working on fencing along tracks to check cattle runover by trains.
“Very unique design has been developed for fencing. The height is about five feet and it has two horizontal barriers. It has been installed on a stretch of about 250 kilometres between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, and there has been zero-cattle casualty since the time it has been installed. We are working on all the factors for high-speed trains,” he said.
The minister said the budget for the railways has been increased from Rs 1 lakh crore to Rs 2.4 lakh crore at present. “It is going up based on the capacity of the railways to do projects. We have to scale up the capacity of the railways to execute projects,” Vaishnaw said.
The minister said the railways is expeditiously working on a rail connectivity projects for border areas. Steps are also being taken to provide 4G-5G services to train passengers, Vaishnaw said. The minister said 4G-5G towers are getting expeditiously installed by the railways. At many places they have been installed and work is going on continuously, he said.