Shatabdi rakes to be standby for Vande Bharat Express trains

To be deployed in case of any exigency such as breakdown, unusual delays

The Railway Ministry has decided to deploy Shatabdi Express rakes to run as Vande Bharat Express in the event of the latter suffering a breakdown or unusual late running.

Two rakes of Train18 model, India’s first semi high-speed train, rolled out by the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai were later flagged off as Vande Bharat Express on the New Delhi-Varanasi and New Delhi-Katra sectors. After the self-propelled trains emerged a tremendous success in terms of safety, ride quality and operational efficiency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that more Vande Bharat trains would be operated across the country. However, there has been considerable delay in manufacturing the rakes.

No flexi fare

With just two rakes operating on the two important routes, the Railway Board has approved a proposal to utilise Shatabdi Express rakes in case of any breakdown or unusual delay of Vande Bharat Expresses.

As a special case, the class-wise normal basic fare for Shatabdi Express would be charged and the difference in fare paid in excess by passengers would be refunded. Though the Shatabdi rake would run in the name of Vande Bharat Express the policy of flexi fare would not apply on such trips.

In January this year, the Indian Railways finalised tender for Vande Bharat train sets (44 rakes of 16 cars each) to be manufactured at three production units — Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, Modern Coach Factory, Rae Bareli and Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala. It was announced that 75% of the components would be locally made, giving a boost to ‘Make in India’ campaign.

The ₹2,211 crore work for design, development, manufacture, supply, integration, testing and commissioning of the three-phase propulsion for Trainsets was awarded to Medha Servo Drives Ltd along with a five-year comprehensive annual maintenance contract. While the ICF would roll out the maximum of 24 rakes, the MCF and the RCF would deliver 10 each.

Prototype in 2022

According to railway sources, the first two prototype rakes were expected by December 2022 and series production of about six rakes per quarter would commence in mid 2023. “Tejas Express rakes were run to substitute Vande Bharat Express when situations arose. Now it has been decided to deploy Shatabdi Express rakes. Coaches of these rakes can’t be attached to Vande Bharat Trainset since they are mechanically and electrically incompatible,” a senior railway official said.

In a note on Environment Conservation published early this week, the Railways described Vande Bharat as “environment-friendly” Trainset as they produced less pollution.

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