CHENNAI: By June this year, the railways will roll out a 'first of its kind' semi-high speed, self-propelled train set which will cut down the travel time by at least 20% in comparison to any train drawn by a loco due to faster acceleration and deceleration.
The Chennai-based Railways' Integral Coach Factory (ICF) has designed the train sets and will manufacture the first with 16 fully air-conditioned coaches by June 2018.
Touted as Train 18, it will have 'world-class' passenger amenities such as on-board Wi-fi and infotainment, GPSbased passenger information system and plush interiors with diffused LED lighting.
The new train with aerodynamic nose for reduced drag and for improved aesthetics is likely to replace elite Shatabdi Trains currently used for superfast inter-city travel.
Another set of train, named Train 20, is likely to be launched in 2020. These will also be equipped with world class facilities to replace another elite train, Rajdhani Express, used in overnight travel. Both Train 18 and Train 20, 'Make in India' projects by ICF, will be manufactured for half the cost of imported train sets. The only difference will be that Train 20 will have an aluminium body while Train 18 will have stainless steel body.
The train sets (like EMUs), which will replace locomotive-hauled trains, will have continuous window glasses for a contemporary modern look; 'automatic plug-type' sliding doors and sliding footsteps which will open and close automatically at the stations and zero discharge vacuum-based bio-toilets.
ICF general manager S Mani said, "Train 18 can travel at speeds of up to 160 kmph. It will have worldclass facilities for passengers. First set of train will be ready by June 2018."
A study shows the railways will be able to cut travel time by three hours and thirtyfive minutes on the 1,440-km Delhi-Howrah route. The Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express can go up to 150 kmph, but the average speed continues to be 90 kmph as there are several speed restrictions. Given that applying brakes and accelerating takes longer using locomotives, the 'train sets' will cut down on time. The reduction in journey time was calculated at a maximum permissible speed of 130 kmph and could come down further if the permissible limit is raised to 160 kmph.
(This article was originally published in The Times of India)