ICF’s Train-18 may bring Tejas Express to its end!

NEW DELHI: With Train 18 gaining pace, the Indian Railways is likely to put an end to the services of the country’s first semi high-speed train Tejas Express. At present, the third Tejas Express is ready to be rolled out in Delhi. However, senior railway officials claim that they are contemplating to stop the manufacturing of Tejas Express trains for the time being.

Train 18 or Vande Bharat Express is a flagship train introduced under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Railways is promoting it heavily and has announced at least 130 Train 18s in the coming days. The second one is more or less ready and shall be out in April. From the point of view of design, the coaches of Train 18 are sleeker, aerodynamic, work without a locomotive and have pro-passenger amenities in tune with trains operating abroad. However, the Tejas Express has LHB coaches that are pulled by an engine.

With regard to speed, both the Tejas and Vande Bharat Express have the ability to run between 160-180 kmph. The third Tejas Express has already been manufactured by one of the production units of the Indian Railways. Although its route has not been decided yet, demands have poured in to operate it on the Delhi-Chandigarh route, a source in the Railways said.

“There is no doubt that we will be focussing on manufacturing more Vande Bharat Express (Train 18) trains. A decision has not been made yet on discontinuing the production of Tejas Express trains,” a senior railway official from Delhi said.

Sources, however, have said that discussions on the production of Tejas Express trains are on. Currently, Tejas Express trains run on two routes; between Mumbai and Goa and also between Chennai and Madurai — the latter was inaugurated earlier in March.

Senior officials from the Central Railway said that barring weekends, tickets for the Tejas Express are easily available. This semi high-speed train departs from CSMT at 5am and reaches Karmali at 1.30pm.

“The reason behind low passenger turnout could be the train’s departure time. We can try the push-pull method of attaching two locomotives at both ends to reduce travel time,” said another senior railway official.

Even on the Chennai-Madurai route, complaints over clogged toilets, broken windows, and defunct LCD sets have been filed, the senior official added. Manufacturing of coaches for the Tejas Express is already expensive by 10-15 per cent as compared to a normal LHB coach used for Rajdhani or Shatabdi Express.

The Indian Railways has proposed over 100 Vande Bharat Express trains that will connect cities.