by Elton Gomes
Three decades after the elite class Shatabdi Express was introduced on Indian tracks, it will now be replaced by Train 18, an ultra modern train equipped with sophisticated interiors, digital platforms, and onboard Wi-Fi services. Train 18 will be assembled at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, and will be hitting the tracks on October 29.
“Coaches of Train 18 will be able to take speeds of 160 kmph and given the current track conditions, the Delhi-Bhopal route would be best suited for it,” Ashwani Lohani, chairman of the Railway Board told Financial Express.
Sources told the Daily Pioneer that the inaugural routes will be selected by the Prime Minister’s Office, and the choice could likely be between Patna-Lucknow and Varanasi-Patna.
“Train 18 will be able to attain speeds of 160 kmph which means travel time will come down by at least 15 per cent compared to Shatabdi. The new technology will also save around 20 per cent in terms of life cycle cost and will require less maintenance as compared to Shatabdi. The weight of Train 18 is also considerably less since no locomotives or power cars are required. The net energy required is less,” said S. Mani, General Manager Integral Coach Factory, as reported by the Daily Pioneer.
Train 18’s features
Train 18, codenamed after the year it is being manufactured in, will indicate a huge step in technological innovation for the Indian Railways. It will the first self-propelled train for inter-city travel. Self-propelled train sets are similar to those in metro trains. The high-tech train will be equipped with driving cabins at both ends, eliminating the need for locomotive to haul it.
The first set of Train 18 will feature 16 chair-car type air-conditioned coaches — 2 executive and 14 non-executive. Maximum seating capacity of executive chair cars will be 56 passengers, while the non-executive class will have 78 seats.
The modular toilets will have aesthetic touch-free bathroom fittings. Train 18 will have zero discharge bio vacuum toilets. Train 18’s luggage rack will be more spacious so that passengers can carry more luggage. The coaches of the Train 18 will be inter-connected and they have additional space for wheel-chairs for disabled passengers.
In addition, Train 18 will be equipped with features like automatic doors, wifi-hub for internet streaming, among others.
The ICF has already been planning for the second phase of the Train 18. The coach factory has been preparing the groundwork for “Train 20”, which will include sleeper coaches to be deployed as Rajdhani type trains. Train 20 is expected to be rolled out in 2020.
Train travel set to become easier
After being rolled out, Train 18 will surely revolutionize passenger experience and take the Indian Railways to the next level. Available passenger amenities and features of Train 18 will not only smoothen the journey, but it will help in improving the brand image of the Indian Railways.
The future of Train 18
After the Train 18 has been officially rolled out, the railways’ Research Design and Standards Organisation and the Commission of Railway Safety will conduct a final clearance for the train. Train 18 will be replacing TEJAS and Shatabdi trains, but its fares are expected to be higher than existing Shatabdi trains.
The ICF has set a target of rolling out 4 more T18 trainsets by March-April 2019. This means that a total of five Train 18 sets can be expected by mid-2019.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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