Train 18 coming soon! From 1988 to 2018 – it’s been 30 years since the first Shatabdi Express train was flagged off. Come 2018 and Indian Railways is all set to roll out its first-ever engine-less inter-city train set that will replace the premium Shatabdi Express trains on the rail network.
Being manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, Train 18 will be a unique train that will mark a new era in travel technology for Indian Railways. The all air-conditioned chair car train will have of executive and non-executive coaches. From Wifi, onboard entertainment, GPS-based passenger information systems to comfortable seats, diffused LED lighting, fully sealed gangways, continuous windows and zero-discharge bio-vacuum toilets – Train 18 will boast of several passenger-friendly features. The self-propelled Train 18 will do away with the need to attach locomotives to haul the train. Just like metro trains, this too will have driving cabins at both ends, a fact that will save crucial time that is required for locomotive reversal.
As Indian Railways looks to introduce Train 18, we take a look at 10 unique facts that every railway passenger would appreciate:
1. First engine-less train:
While many of us have seen engine-less trains (metro trains in cities), this is for the first time that Indian Railways will introduce a self-propelled train for inter-city travel. The self-propulsion technology will also allow for faster acceleration and deceleration, hence reducing the total journey time. The use of this self-propulsion technology for larger distances is a leap for Indian Railways which will treat Train 18 as a prototype for future trains as well. While Train 18 will be LHB-platform AC chair car train, eventually Indian Railways is looking to introduce aluminium bodied train sets as well for long distance travel. The experiment with Train 18 will serve to be a stepping stone in the direction of the future of train travel in India.
2. Made in record time:
According to ICF GM Sudhanshu Mani, Train 18 has been designed and developed in a record time of 18-20 months. “Any manufacturer around the world takes around 3 years to design and develop a new train, but we got the project from the Railway Board in March 2017 and then set about to first design and then make this train set. It was a new learning for us to integrate self-propulsion systems on an inter-city train,” Sudhanshu Mani has said.
3. Semi-high speed travel:
As India looks to introduce its first bullet train in 2022, Train 18 will look to accelerate introduction of semi-high speed travel in Indian Railways. While India’s fastest train, Gatimaan Express, already clocks a speed of 160 kmph, with Train 18 set to replace Shatabdi Express trains on key routes, and track upgradation underway, soon several trains may be able to run at 160 kmph.
4. Automatic doors with sliding footsteps:
While automatic doors on Indian Railways trains were introduced on the Tejas Express, this is for the first time that the doors will also have sliding footsteps that will open when the train reaches the platform. These sliding footsteps will make boarding and deboarding the train simpler for passengers.
5. European-style seats:
According to an ICF official, Train 18 will have European style seats. “The frames for Train 18 seats will be of European-style, making them more firm and durable,” the official told Financial Express Online. These seats will not only be more comfortable, but will also have better finish, the official said.
6. ‘Make in India’ train at half the cost of import!:
ICF claims that the ‘Make in India’ Train 18 is being manufactured at approximately half the cost of a similar imported train set. In recent interview with FE Online, Shudhanshu Mani said that the average per coach cost would be around Rs 6 crore. He is of the view that once mass production of Train 18 starts this will come closer to Rs 5 crore per coach.
7. White-coloured train:
According to sources, Train 18 will sport white paint, with some coloured vinyl strips/bands. The final colour scheme is in works and will be decided soon, sources told FE Online.
8. Swanky pantry:
Like the Shatabdi Express trains, each coach of Train 18 will have a mini-pantry with heating chambers for food and refrigerating units for beverages. However, the one key difference would be that the equipment used for heating and chilling food and beverages would be of better quality, making for uniformly warmer and colder beverages for passengers.
9. Disabled-friendly spaces:
Some coaches of Train 18 will have spaces to park wheelchairs, making the new train set disabled friendly – a noteworthy step by Indian Railways.
10. Train 18 to replace India’s fastest Shatabdi:
In an interaction with Financial Express Online, Chairman Railway Board Ashwani Lohani recently said that Train 18 will likely replace India’s fastest Shatabdi Express train that runs on the Delhi-Bhopal route. Lohani believes that given the track conditions, the Delhi-Bhopal route is best suited to run the semi-high speed train.