All you need to know about the Indian Railways’ future plans

By Elton Gomes

The past few months have seen a number of updates carried out by the Indian Railways. From introducing the Train 18 to comfortable business class seats, the Indian Railways has made travelling more comfortable.

According to reports on Monday, India’s first locomotive-less train, known as Train 18, breached the 180 kmph speed limit during a test run on Sunday, a senior railway official said. When this Rs 100-crore “Make in India” train becomes operational, it will be India’s fastest train.

What’s more is that the testing of this train has been progressing as per schedule, and it could be launched on December 25, 2018. Here are additional updates that the Railways has made.

Train 18

The trial performance of India’s first engine-less semi-high speed train—Train 18—has been satisfactory and it is progressing as per schedule. The T18 train has successfully completed its running and performance trials in Moradabad and it will now be undergoing running and performance trials at the Kota division to arrive at 160 Kmph speed limit.

News agency IANS reported that the Indian Railways plans to launch Train 18 by the end of this year on December 25. The train service is likely to function on the New Delhi-Varanasi route.

“Christmas Day also happens to be the birthday of late Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and it would be a tribute to the great statesman of the country if we manage to launch the next-generation train on that day,” a senior Railways official told IANS.

On Monday, PTI reported that Train 18 had breached the 180 kmph speed limit during a test run on Sunday, a senior railway official said here.

“Train 18 breached the 180 kmph speed limit in the Kota-Sawai Madhopur section. The major trials are now over, with just some more remaining. Based on the reports, fine tuning would be done if needed. As of now no major technical problem has cropped up,” S Mani, General Manager of Integral Coach Factory, which has manufactured the train, told PTI.

The Train 18 will be a fully air-conditioned train, and will have 16 chair-car type coaches – out of which two will be executive chair cars and 14 non-executive chair cars. The executive chair can seat 56 passengers, while the non executive chairs will be able to accommodate 78 passengers.

Some of Train 18’s features include inter-connected fully sealed gangways, automatic doors with retractable footsteps, onboard Wi-Fi and infotainment, GPS-based passenger information system, modular toilets with bio-vacuum systems, halogen free rubber-on-rubber flooring, and rotational seats which can be aligned in the direction of travel (though this will be available only in the executive class). Train 18 will also be equipped with roller blinds, diffused LED lighting, and disabled-friendly toilets.

Library on wheels

The Maharashtra government started a library in two prestigious trains of the Central Railway (CR).

Maharashtra’s education minister Vinod Tawde started the library on wheels in Deccan Queen Express and Panchavati Express from October 15, which was commemorated as Vaachan Prerna Diwas (Inspire to Read Day) in memory of late former president of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s birth anniversary.

On October 15, the library was inaugurated in the two trains. Both trains had a trolley filled with 250-300 books. The trolley was ferried and passengers were free to pick a book of their choice.

“It will be beneficial for people who love to read. We shall be introducing more books in English and Hindi as well,” Tawde said, DNA reported.

Business-class seats in Tejas Express

As Indian Railways introduces its new ‘Make in India’ Tejas Express train, the new luxury train service is equipped with seats similar to those in an aircraft’s business class.

The Executive chair car coach of the upgraded Tejas Express train has bucket-like comfortable seats in a 2+2 configuration. The coach can seat up to 56 passengers.

The beige-coloured seats are covered with a leather-like material, and passengers can enjoy a comfortable headrest and footrest. The snack table is hidden in the handrest and can be taken out as and when required.

In front of every passenger, and at the back of every seat, is a personalised LCD screen that has the option to play music, watch movies etc. Each seat is also equipped with a USB charging point, personalised reading lights, and an attendant call button.

Solar panels to be fitted on passenger trains

For the first time, coaches on the Indian Railways were powered by solar energy, after the national transporter retrofitted its passenger trains with flexible solar panels.

The solar panels would help in operating fans, light, and mobile charging slots on the coaches. Developed by the Indian Railway Organization for Alternate Fuels (IROAF), the solar panels were earlier fitted in DEMU trains in 2017.

After the success on these coaches, the Railways felt that solar energy can also be harnessed in its main line coaches, a rail official said.

“With this target in mind, Member Rolling Stock (MRS)/ Railway board has directed IROAF to fit Solar PV Panels on rooftop of four passenger trains which face the problem of run-down of batteries due to slow running of trains,” the official added, PTI reported.

Indian Railways introduces eDrishti

On November 29, the Indian Railways unveiled a software that would help Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to keep track of punctuality of trains as well as freight and passenger earnings from anywhere in the country.

The Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) developed the “eDrishti” software to help Goyal stay on top of all information related to Indian Railways. A senior Railway Ministry official told IANS that Goayl will be able to track any information with just a click of the mouse, whether he is in his office or on the move.

At any given point of time, Goyal will know the day’s freight and passenger earnings, freight loading and unloading, punctuality, progress of major projects, public grievances, the movement of trains across the country, details of railway stations, and other details.

Since the Railways receives several complaints regarding its food quality, the software has also been connected with the base kitchens of the Indian Rail Catering and Tourism Corp (IRCTC). This means that, through live video, Goyal will be able to monitor what happens inside IRCTC kitchens.

Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius

eDrishtiIndian Railwayslibrary on wheelsSolar PowerTejas expressTrain 18