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Train 18 may change the way we travel

Wednesday - September 19, 2018 6:36 pm , Category : TRAVEL

WTN - If things go as planned, Train 18 may be a reality by the end of this year. The first train is likely to be rolled out from Bhopal to Delhi as an apt replacement for the three-decade old Shatabdi Express. The LHB coaches for this train are being built by Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai on a war footing and rigorous testing of the new rake on different routes will in probability start next month, paving the way for its commercial launch by December or January.

The unique feature of this new offering is that it will be an engineless train. In other words, the train will not have separate locomotives to haul the bogies. It will be a self-propelled train with drivers’ cabins at both ends of the rake, just like in metro rail. This facility will obliterate the time taking process of changing engines at stations when the train’s direction is to be changed and also improve pickup/de-acceleration and speed, which will save time.

If the Bhopal-Delhi experiment turns out to be a success, all the premium Shatabdi routes will gradually be replaced by Train 18. These trains will reach an optimum speed of 160 kmph, which will be higher than Shatabdis’. The ergonomics are better on these trains than the Shatabdi and have better features and facilities to make travel a more comfortable and convenient experience.  The seats, being manufactured in the European formant, will be sturdier, firmer and more spacious and comfortable.

There will be wi-fi facility on board and GPS-based real time passenger information system, apart from diffused LED lights, long windows, zero-discharge bio-toilets, completely sealed gangways and retractable/ sliding stairs to alight and board along with self locking automatic doors. The train has been designed and built in a record 18-20 month time, while generally it takes 32-25 months for the same work in any other country. The bogies have been indigenously built as part of the Make in India programme and cost just about Rs 5 crore a bogey, which, if imported, would have cost at least double the amount. The train is also the first in India to be disabled-friendly with ample space for keeping wheelchairs.

A mini-pantry will ensure fresh food and more diverse food and drink options. The train has been envisaged to sport a white exterior with vinyl strips of suitable colour combinations to make it look premium and attractive. The Bhopal-Delhi track condition has been found the most suitable to run the train at present. However, obstructions on the tracks due to erratic movement of livestock, so common a sight, can pose a problem for the safety of the semi-high speed train and as such, the optimum speed may not ever be achieved. 

The railways will have to find out ways to disassociate the train from any such possibilities of obstructions on the way, at least in the near future, either by constructing elevated tracks or by fencing the tracks or by enhanced monitoring of such trespassing so that train movement is not disrupted by cattle.

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