NEW DELHI: Train 18, Indian Railways’ first engineless ‘Shatabdi killer’, is all set to be flagged off by PM Narendra Modi on December 29, learns Financial Express Online. Train 18, manufactured by ICF Chennai, recently became India’s fastest train by hitting speeds of over 180 kmph during tests on a section of the Delhi-Rajdhani route. An informed source in the Railway Ministry told Financial Express Online that Train 18 will run between Delhi and Varanasi, the latter being PM Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency. “Train 18 will be flagged off on December 29 by the Prime Minister on the Delhi-Varanasi route. The venue of the flag off has not yet been decided, whether it will be Delhi or Varanasi,” the official told.
Train 18, with its white and blue exterior and state-of-the-art swanky interiors, is a world-class offering from Piyush Goyal-led Indian Railways. Boasting of several firsts, Train 18 has an underslung propulsion system, automatic doors with sliding footsteps and is also disabled friendly. Train 18 will be operated at a maximum speed of 160 kmph – the only other train to run at such speed being the Gatimaan Express. Train 18 has been codenamed after the year it has been manufactured it, but the Railway Ministry is presently mulling options for changing the name of India’s fastest engineless train.
Thirty years after the first Shatabdi Express rolled out, Indian Railways is getting a next-generation all air-conditioned chair car train set that will eventually replace the Shatabdi Express fleet. Train 18 has several passenger friendly features – rotating seats in executive class, European-style seats, modular bio-vacuum toilets, diffused aircraft-like lighting, cushioned luggage racks, personalised reading lights, fully sealed dust-free gangways for easy movement, better pantry equipment to keep food hotter and beverages chilled, and disabled-friendly wheelchair parking spaces and toilet.
With the ability to accelerate and decelerate faster, Train 18 is expected to reduce the total travel time by 15-20%. Additionally, with the need for locomotive reversal eliminated, the turnaround time of the train is also reduced. The ‘Make in India’ Train 18 has been manufactured at a cost of Rs 100 crore, but ICF GM Sudhanshu Mani has told Financial Express Online that the cost will come down to Rs 80 crore as more such train sets are manufactured. This, he claims, will be around half the cost of a similar import.
Impressed with the success of Train 18 during its trials, Piyush Goyal-led Railway Board has asked ICF to expedited manufacturing more such trains. According to Sudhanshu Mani, ICF can manufacture 2 more Train 18 sets in the current financial year and has the capability to making 8 more in 2019-20.