Train 18 Launch: Condemning the terror attack in Pulwama and calling for a global battle against terror forces, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday flagged off the Vande Bharat Express, pegged as India’s first semi-high speed train, to Varanasi from New Delhi Railway station at 11.30 am and also paved the way for 100 more such trainsets.
“PM Modi has given me permission to make 100 more Train 18 like trainsets to run across India in semi high-speed service. We have already started tendering process of 30 more trainsets,” Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said, on board the running Vande Bharat Express after the flag off.
In view of the terror attack and out of respect for the fallen soldiers, Indian Railways curtailed celebrations and did not decorate the shining new 16-coach train that runs without a locomotive. The inauguration was kept a “sombre affair”, said a senior officer.
The PM arrived at the station after the Cabinet Committee on Security meeting in which Pakistan’s MFN (Most Favoured Nation) status was withdrawn.
Goyal along with Railway Board members travelled on the train to Varanasi.
Modi said that in the five years of the NDA government, the railways has transformed in areas of project execution, speed upgrade, customer service, amenities and other aspects.
“Today one can book 20,000 tickets in a minute on the railway website. Projects are sanctioned in a maximum of six months,” Modi said at the event.
Built at a cost of Rs 97 crore, Train 18 is India’s first seating-only, long distance trainset that runs without a locomotive. Train 18 recently became India’s fastest train by hitting a top speed of over 180 kmph during a trial run on the Rajdhani-Shatabdi route. In its commercial run, the train will run at 130 kmph.
The train, built at the Integral Coach Factory Chennai, is showcased as an indigenous product under the Make in India initiative of the government.