The new batch of 16-coach semi-high-speed Vande Bharat Express trains, two of which are slated to hit the tracks for trials in August, will be produced at a cost of Rs 115 crore each, as per an official statement. They noted that the price will drop significantly once the coaches are mass-produced. By August 2023, the railways plan to produce 75 of these trains. It is to be noted that two such trains are already operational between Delhi and Varanasi and Delhi and Katra; the next set will have 75 upgraded versions of these trains in terms of security and passenger amenities.
“The cost of manufacturing a 16-coach Vande Bharat train would be roughly Rs 110 crore to Rs 120 crore. You may say it is Rs 115 crore on an average. Our upgrades are improvements only, and as we make more trains, our cost decreases. With volume, the cost will come down further, “General Manager, Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, AK Agarwal said.
The ICF had rolled out the two earlier trains at a cost of Rs 106 crore each. The biggest safety feature of the new set of Vande Bharat trains will be the use of the train collision avoidance system (TCAS) or Kavach to prevent signal signal passing at danger (SPAD) cases, unsafe situations arising due to over speed and train collisions in the station area as well as in the block section.
The trains will also have a centralized coach-monitoring system, whereby all electrical components and climate control will be monitored on a real-time basis by a designated person.
Compared to earlier versions, the new trains have been upgraded with several safety features, including fire detection alarms in the coaches, a fire detection suppression system in the cubicles and toilets, disaster lights, and emergency lights – two in the passenger area and one in the doorway.
The security features include four emergency windows per coach, while earlier, it was two.
Passengers dealing with emergencies can now easily access to emergency pushbuttons and emergency talk-back units, using which they can speak to the loco pilot. The numbers of both have been increased from two to four.
With cattle run over causing serious damage to the train exteriors, the new trains will have strengthened fibred reinforced plastic like the ones used in aircraft. The ICF has also taken into account passenger feedback and redesigned the seats by replacing the sliding, reclining ones with aircraft-like reclining seats.
“The new trains will provide better riding comfort to passengers. We have designed a better bogie, and the final trains will be 99-per cent ‘desi’ with only small components sourced from outside India. They will have automatic doors, sensor-operated doors for coaches, reduced jerks, wider windows, more space for luggage, “Agarwal said.
The ICF is planning to manufacture around ten trains per month. Eventually, the F-Kapurthala and the Modern Coach Factory in Rae Bareilly will also start manufacturing these coaches to meet the target of 400 Vande Bharat trains over the next three years.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi setting a target of 75 such trains by August 2023, the railways faced a significant roadblock in achieving its goal when the wheels of the trains were stuck in war-hit Ukraine.
Earlier this month, 128 wheels were transported by trucks from Ukraine to Romania, from where those were airlifted to Chennai. From the Chennai airport, the wheels were taken to the factory of Medha Servo Drives Limited in Hyderabad, where the bogie – the wheels and the axle – will be assembled and sent back to the ICF for the final assembly.
The trials of the trains, which were supposed to be conducted in May, were pushed back to August due to the Ukraine roadblock.
With inputs from PTI