Train 18: The engine-less Train 18, now called the Vande Bharat Express, will soon have a Rajdhani-style sleeper-class version for long-distance travel! With the self-propelled Vande Bharat Express being flagged off by PM Narendra Modi on February 15, Indian Railways is already planning to manufacture a Rajdhani-version of the train set. Financial Express Online learns that the design work for this new sleeper-version of Train 18 will begin soon. “We will start the design work on the sleeper-version of Train 18 in a month or so. The new design should be ready in 2-3 months,” Shubhranshu, Principal Chief Mechanical Engineer (PCME) at ICF said while speaking exclusively to Financial Express Online. “Once the design is ready we will send it to the Railway Board for approval. If all goes well, we should have a Rajdhani-style Train 18 ready by the end of this year,” Shubhranshu added.
Train 18, codenamed after its year of manufacturing 2018, is a self-propelled semi-high speed train set that has been manufactured at ICF Chennai. Recently named the Vande Bharat Express, Train 18 is an all air-conditioned chair car service that was conceptualised as a replacement for Shatabdi Express trains on Indian Railways. The Vande Bharat Express completed its first successful commercial run on February 17 and according to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, the tickets for the next two weeks have already been booked.
Interestingly, Train 18, having attained speeds of over 180 kmph during its trials, is also the fastest Indian Railways train. After the successful trials of the first prototype, Indian Railways is now hoping to make more such AC chair car train sets next financial year, and one sleeper-class Rajdhani-style variant. Giving more details about the upcoming project, Shubhranshu told Financial Express Online that there would be notable differences in the interiors of the Rajdhani-style Train 18. “The project is at a nascent stage, but I can tell you that we will maintain the European-style comfort of the berths,” he said. “One notable difference between making a chair car and a sleeper coach is that in case of the latter the position of berths has to be fixed with one berth on either side of the window. The compulsion does not exist in chair cars. But these are minor design changes that we hope to be able to make in 2-3 months,” he added.
A 160 kmph semi-high speed AC sleeper train will come as a welcome change for passengers, especially on key Rajdhani routes on the Golden Quadrilateral. With features such as faster acceleration and deceleration and quicker turnaround time (no locomotive reversal required), the Rajdhani version of Train 18 would cut down travel time drastically.