India's first engine-less semi-high speed train—"Train 18"—was rolled out on Monday, October 29 by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) here and will eventually replace the Shatabdi Express for inter-city travel.
The 16-coach semi-high speed 'trainset' built at a cost of Rs 100 crore per rake with 80 percent Indian component has been designed for a maximum operating speed of 160 kmph, officials said.
This is the first long-distance train sans separate locomotive (engine) and was flagged off at the ICF premises by Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani. It would undergo trials in coming months, ICF officials said.
The fully air-conditioned train, driven by a self-propulsion module, has the potential to become the country's fastest train provided the infrastructure was improved, Lohani said. Five more units of the train would be produced by the ICF by the end of 2019-20 production year, he said.
The swanky 16-coach train will cut journey time by 15 percent compared to the 30-year old Shatabdi.
"It is a matter of pride that India has made such a train and that too, the ICF has done it within 18 months," Lohani told reporters here.
"Within 2018-19 production year, another unit of the train would be manufactured and four more units would be manufactured by end of 2019-20 production year," Lohani said.
Train-18 has two driving trailer coaches with aerodynamic driver's cab (nose cone) on both the ends which will enable quicker turn-around time at destinations. Every alternative coach is motorized, to ensure even distribution of power and faster acceleration/deceleration.
Fitted with CCTV cameras, Train-18 would have two executive compartments in the middle with 52 seats each, whereas trailer coaches would have 78 seats each. It has diffused lighting, automatic doors, and footsteps beside GPS-based passenger information system.
The footsteps in the coaches of the doorways are designed in such a way that it would slide outward when the train stopped at a station enabling passengers to alight safely with comfort in view of the variation in height between a trains floor and the platform.
All the equipment are below the chassis of the coaches leaving the complete onboard space for passenger movement. All the coaches are connected by fully sealed gangways with integrated bridge plates, where a passenger can walk across freely.
The Shatabdi trains were introduced in 1988 and are presently running on over 20 routes connecting metros with other important cities.
With Train 18 already set to go for trials, the railways will now turn its focus on another project—Train 20—the next generation aluminium-bodied sleeper class trains that will replace the Rajdhani Express trains on the network and is expected to be rolled out by 2020.