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.
The train 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.