Train 18 is ready! It was in 1988 that India's first Shatabdi Express train was introduced. It was a revolution in railway travel for the country - a fast, comfortable way of completing inter-city travel within a few hours. Come 2018, 30 years since the introduction of Shatabdi, a new self-propelled Indian Railways train is ready to hit the tracks. Set to replace India's fastest Shatabdi Express between Delhi and Bhopal, Train 18 marks a big shift in terms of the technology that is used to run a train. Relying on self-propulsion units, instead of locomotives, Train 18 will be able to attain speeds of 160 kmph. But is Train 18 better than Shatabdi Express? Why does Indian Railways need to manufacture a self-propelled engine-less train to replace its premium chair car service? That's because Train 18, over its lifecycle, will be a less costlier and more effective way of travelling! It's also a greener way of travelling with no requirement of locomotives for hauling. A senior ICF official that Financial Express Online spoke to said that there will be a saving of around 20% in terms of lifecycle cost with Train 18, as compared to Shatabdi Express. "Train 18 will require very less maintenance compared to the locomotive-hauled Shatabdi Express train due to to its 3-phase propulsion system and new generation bogies," the official said. "The weight of Train 18 is also considerably less since no locomotives or powercars are required. The net energy required is less," the official added. While the first prototype of Train 18 has cost around Rs 5-6 crore per coach, over a period of time, ICF expects this to come down as economies of scale kick in. In fact, ICF claims that Train 18 will cost almost half the expenditure incurred on importing such a train set. Train 18 will mean faster and less time-consuming rail travel! According to the ICF official quoted above, with Train 18 the travel time will come down by at least 15% compared to Shatabdi. "Train 18 has a speed potential of 160 kmph and 0.8 m\/sec2 acceleration against 130 kmph maximum speed and 0.4 m\/sec2 acceleration for Shatabdi trains. This will reduce journey time by 15% on existing track which is fit for 130 kmph. If the track is fit for 160 kmph, the journey time will reduce further," the official told Financial Express Online. WATCH NOW! Exclusive: Train 18 testing begins! Indian Railways engine-less train gears up for rollout As of now, Train number 12002 New Delhi-Habibganj Shatabdi Express takes around 8 hours and 25 minutes between the two cities. So, theoretically with a reduction of 15% travel time, Train 18 would take around 7 hours and 10 minutes, that is 75 minutes less! Incidentally the New Delhi-Habibganj Shatabdi Express route has stretches where tracks can take speeds of 160 kmph. Hence, the reduction in time is expected to be even more! Train 18: All you need to know From the passengers' perspective, Train 18 will offer aircraft-like comfort! Train 18 is a 16 coach all air-conditioned AC chair car with driving cabs at each end, similar to metro network trains. With European-style comfortable seats, Train 18 will boast of executive and non-executive coaches. Diffused LED lighting, personalised reading lights, mobile charging points with each seat, modular zero-discharge bio-vacuum toilets, disabled friendly wheelchair parking spaces, automatic doors with sliding footsteps fully sealed dust-free gangways and swanky mini pantry are some of the salient features of Train 18. While there are very few stretches on the Indian Railways network that allow for speeds of 160 kmph, the self-propelled Train 18 is a definite peek into the future of rail travel in India. And, as Indian Railways upgrades tracks and signalling infrastructure on its major routes like the Golden Quadrilateral, Indian Railways passengers can look forward to faster, more comfortable and luxurious inter-city train travel in the years to come.