India's first semi-high speed train the Vande Bharat Express will be flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, February 15, from the New Delhi railway station, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and members of the Railway Board will be on board the train on its inaugural journey, it said.
The train will travel from Delhi to Varanasi in nine hours and forty-five minutes. This includes stoppage time of 40 minutes each at Kanpur and Allahabad where there will be special programmes. At the New Delhi railway station, Modi will inspect the facilities in the train and address a gathering on the occasion.
The semi-high speed Train 18, which has been recently rechristened Vande Bharat Express, can run up to a maximum speed of 160 kmph and has travel classes like the Shatabdi trains but with better facilities. It aims to provide a totally new travel experience to passengers.
It has 16 air-conditioned coaches of which two are executive class. The total seating capacity is 1,128 passengers. It is much more than the conventional Shatabdi rakes of an equal number of coaches, thanks to shifting of all electric equipment below the coaches and seats in the driving coach also.
All coaches are equipped with automatic doors, GPS-based audio-visual passenger information system, onboard hotspot WiFi for entertainment purposes and very comfortable seating. All toilets are the bio-vacuum type. The lighting is dual mode, that is diffused for general illumination and personal for every seat.
Every coach has a pantry facility to serve hot meals and, hot and cold beverages. The insulation is meant to keep heat and noise to very low levels for additional passenger comfort.
Adding up the green footprints, the train has a regenerative braking system which can save up to 30 percent of electrical energy. The Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, has been the force behind the complete in-house design and manufacture of this train which was completed in just 18 months.