Train 18: Indian Railways first engine-less self-propelled train for inter-city travel will hit the tracks on October 29. Financial Express Online brings you an exclusive video preview of Train 18, explaining the salient features of the train set.
Train 18: Indian Railways first engine-less self-propelled train for inter-city travel will hit the tracks on October 29. Financial Express Online brings you an exclusive video preview of Train 18, explaining the salient features of the train set and explaining why Indian Railways believes it will offer a world-class experience, better than the premium Shatabdi Express train. Manufactured by ICF Chennai under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, Train 18 takes your breath away at the first sight!
India has never seen a train like this for inter-city travel and the first thought that crosses one’s mind is – will Indian Railways be able to maintain it? Given the recent incidents with Tejas Express and other LHB trains, to maintain Train 18’s swanky look will be a tough task for Indian Railways. Painted in hues of white and blue, Train 18 gives a bullet-train like European feel. It has continuous windows for panoramic view from the passengers’ perspective. The 16 coach all air-conditioned chair car has an aerodynamic driver cabin at each end, eliminating the need for train reversal at terminal stations.
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In a first for Indian Railways, Train 18 has automatic doors with sliding footsteps! The doors are centrally operated and open only when the train is stationary. A footstep slides out to bridge the gap between the train and the station platform. This world-class feature is a welcome step, especially for senior citizens and children who often find it cumbersome to board and de-board from the existing fleet of Indian Railways trains.
Watch now! Exclusive video review of Train 18
Train 18 – step in for an aircraft-like travel experience
Train 18 has two executive chair cars and 14 non-executive chair cars. Each driving coach has a seating area for passengers and space to roll in and park wheelchairs. The increased seating capacity implies that the 16-coach Train 18 will be able to take over 1100 passengers at a time! The toilets in these coaches are also disabled friendly. The first noticeable feature of Train 18 are its fully sealed gangways which not only allow for easy movement between coached but also make the air-conditioning more efficient and help keep the train dust-free. All coaches have automatic sliding doors at the entrance with optical sensors.
The Executive chair car has spacious and comfortable seats covered in golden coloured fabric that ICF officials say is stain and fire resistant. The headrests are purple and pink in colour. An interesting feature is that the seats can be rotated 360/180 degrees, allowing passengers travelling in a group to chat easily. The drawback of this feature is that when passengers face each other, they would have no snack table to keep food and beverages.
The non-Executive chair car has seats with leather-like material in graded colours of pink and purple. The seats are in the standard 3+2 configuration with a centre table in the middle of the coach. To add to passengers’ comfort, the centre table in Train 18 also has foldable snack tables that cover the space between the seat and the main table itself.
Both the Executive and non-Executive chair cars have a new reclining feature, similar to the one you find in cars. Instead of pushing back the back rest, in Train 18 the seat is pushed forward to create a reclining position. This new feature is a welcome one since it makes sure that passengers sitting behind you are not disturbed. In case of the Executive chair car this function can be performed with the help of a button and in the non-Executive you can push forward your seat by pulling a handle just below the seat.
Some of the standard features of all coaches in Train 18 are; aircraft-like diffused LED lighting, personalised reading lights for each seat, cushioned luggage racks with glass bottom, GPS-based information screens at each end of the coach, mobile charging points next to each seat, toilet occupancy indicators, mini pantry with swanky heating and cooling equipment, modular bio-vacuum toilets for efficient flushing, new design bottle holders for each seat and WiFi facility for personal devices that will help play preloaded content.
Train 18 manufactured at “half the cost of import”!
From design to the finished project, Train 18 has been manufactured in a record time of 18-20 months, says Sudhanshu Mani, GM of ICF. “The international standard for such a product is 30-36 months, from conception to prototype,” he tells Financial Express Online. The maintenance cost of Train 18 will be less compared to Shatabdi Express since it doesn’t have locomotives or power cars. The train set will also be more energy-efficient with lesser carbon footprint.
The cost of manufacturing the first prototype of Train 18 is Rs 100 crore, while that of a similar Shatabdi is Rs 80 crore. Sudhanshu Mani says that once more such train sets are manufactured, economies of scale will kick in and the manufacturing cost would also be similar to that of Shatabdi. “An equivalent train, if ICF had not taken up the challenge to manufacture in ICF indigenously would have cost more than Rs 150 crore and that too over a number of train sets ordered, the price would not come down for the first 10-15 train sets. Train 18 is a perfect example of ‘Make in India’,” adds Sudhanshu Mani.
How does Train 18’s self-propulsion system work?
According to Shubhranshu, Principal CMS, ICF, “Train 18 has a propulsion system, its transformers and traction motors, distributed over the entire length of the train. A basic self-propulsion unit consists of 4 coaches which has all the equipment under-slung so that the weight is distributed equally; driving coach, transformer coach, traction motors coach and pantograph coach which picks current from the over-head wire.” “In a train of 16 coaches, there are 8 coaches which are motored, which we call 50% powering,” he explains.
Train 18’s self-propulsion system allows for faster acceleration and deceleration, hence reducing the travel time drastically. ICF expects that the 160 kmph capable train will reduce travel time by at least 15% even if it runs at just 130 kmph.
Train 18 will replace India’s fastest Shatabdi Express train from January 2019. After rolling out from ICF, it will undergo extensive testing from RDSO on various parameters including speed. Our first impression of Train 18 is that the train set is not only a big leap from the experience that Shatabdi Express offers, but also also offers world-class features. From 2019, passengers on the Delhi-Bhopal route can look forward to this rail travel experience.