Vande Bharat Express is India’s first semi-high-speed train, developed and designed by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai, a subsidiary of Indian Railways. The train is sleek, modern, and fully air-conditioned, boasting world-class amenities and services for passengers. Vande Bharat Express is a world-class train that represents the best of Indian technology and engineering. Its combination of speed, comfort, and luxury has made it a popular choice among passengers, and it is sure to play a significant role in the future of Indian Railways.
In an Exclusive Interview with Anindita Sen and Anish Mondal from Financial Express Online, BG Mallya, General Manager of Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai talks about lightweight aluminum car trains and the yet-to-be-launched Vande Metro.
Q. Is there any plan to manufacture an upgraded/premium version of Vande Bharat?
We will be shortly doing the sleeper version of the Vande Bharat, which will be suited for long-distance travel. What we are doing today is only chair cars and I think the maximum length of the journey is about eight hours. So the next thing which is going to happen is the sleeper version of Vande Bharat. So we want to roll out a few trends this year. We are working on it.
Q. How soon is the sleeper version of Vande Bharat going to roll out?
Most likely in the current financial year. I think the country needs luxury travel between cities, which say 1000 kilometers away or 2000 kilometers.
Q. On which route it will run?
Most of these things ICF has absolutely no idea.
Q. How many tenders of Vande Bharat sleeper version have been launched?
The Railway Board has opened a tender but what we are trying to do is we are trying to use the material which we have for the chair car version and produce the first sleeper version.
Q. What more features to be included in the Vande Bharat in the coming days.
In the future we will be going in for aluminum car trains. So, that will be lightweight. And once it is lightweight the energy consumption comes down. So, that is one very major development that is what happened. We have not made any aluminium car body trains in the past. So, that would be the first time that ICF would be doing aluminium car body trains. So, lightweight, I hope you understand that the energy efficiency improves because the train rate comes down. So, your power requirement reduces.
Once you use aluminium, the weight of the train reduces considerably. So that assessment is being made. So once the weight comes down the power required for running at a particular speed on a particular terrain, that requirement also comes down. So that is the advantage of using aluminium compared to stainless steel which we are using today. Cost and all would be different production the effort is to reduce what we call a cycle time so that the rollout can be faster. So these things once the project is taken up at ICF we will be working on that. But as such, there is a tender for the aluminium car body Vande Bharat train.
Q. In the near future, are there any chances of Vande Bharat replacing the existing Rajdhani or Shatabdi trains?
You would have seen that in quite a few places where it has been launched, it is launched at timings that are almost identical to the Shatabdi timings. So there is a possibility that yes that may happen. Of course, the Shatabdi train will be used somewhere else because Vande Bharat for us to produce those many numbers it will take time. So we will keep on producing and wherever it is feasible, the Shatabdi could be replaced by Vande Bharat, and the Shatabdi in turn will be used on some other route. So nothing was wasted.
Q. Government wants to ramp up the production of the Vande Bharat in the next financial area. So, what is the manufacturing target of an integral coach factory?
46 trains with 16 cars per train are likely to be produced in the next financial year.
Q. What about Vande Metro? What new features will be added to the Vande Metro?
Vande Metro designs are getting finalized. So, we will be shortly visiting the Railway Ministry to discuss with them the proposal we have made for the Vande Metro. Also, we are hoping that maybe within this month, we will be able to at least freeze the specification and go ahead with the procurement process.
Vande Metro essentially has most of the features of Vande Bharat, the only thing is that type of service is different, you will have space for standee passengers because it is going to replace what we call the mainline EMU trains, where you have space for standees. So, you will have about 250 to 300 people at each coach so, seating will be such that you have a lot of space in the center for people to stand holding onto handholds. So, being that type of service, you will agree that the pantry equipment is not required. These trains would have toilets, these trains would have passenger information and public address system (PAS), these trains would have air conditioning, these plans would have automatic doors, and speed potential we are hoping to make it 130 kilometers. These are the things that we have to decide in consultation with our ministry. So the proposal is 130 kmph for max speed.
Q. Is there any plan to make Vande Bharat aluminium trains at 200 kmph at ICF?
There is a plan for making trains that are fit for running at 200 kmph at ICF. Other coach manufacturing units like MCF – Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli, and Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala will also get a chance to upgrade their technology.