IRCTC Indian Railways Train 18: Train 18, India’s first engine less-train, also became the fastest train in the country when crossed the 180 kilometers per hour (kmph) mark during a trial run in the Kota-Sawai Madhopur section. It outran Gatimaan Express which held the record of being the fastest train in the country running at 160 kmph.
“Train 18 breached the 180 kmph speed limit in the Kota-Sawai Madhopur section. The major trials are now over, with just some more remaining. Based on the reports, fine tuning would be done if needed. As of now, no major technical problem has cropped up,” S Mani, General Manager of Integral Coach Factory (ICF) that has manufactured the train was quoted as saying by PTI.
Officials in the Indian Railways maintain that the train holds the capability of reaching the top speed of 200 kmph if the tracks, signal system work in tandem.
When will Train 18 be operational?
Speaking to PTI, Mani said that the high-speed train is expected to go for its commercial run in January 2019. “We expect Train 18 to commence its commercial run from January 2019. Normally, the trials take three months, but now it is happening faster than expected,” Mani said.
However, some sources in the Indian Railways said that the train can go on tracks on December 25 itself. “Christmas Day also happens to be the birthday of late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and it would be a tribute to the great statesman if we manage to launch the next-generation train on that day,” a senior railway official told IANS.
Features of Train 18
With 16 coaches, the train will have the same passenger carrying capacity as that of the Shatabdi Express. The high-tech, energy-efficient, self-propelled (engine-less) train was flagged-off by Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani on October 29.
The fully air-conditioned semi-high speed train, which will cut travel time by 15 per cent as compared to the Shatabdi, has been manufactured under ‘Make in India’ initiative by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai at the cost of Rs 100 crore and completed in a record 18 months as opposed to around three years that private industry players generally take to build a product like this from scratch.
While Railways has been using driver-less Electrical Multiple Units running on similar basis for ages in suburban networks, what makes Train 18 special is that it is meant for long-distance travels to replace existing premium offerings like the Shatabdi. According to ICF designers, it is a marriage between the stability and sturdiness of LHB coach with the distributed traction power technology of train sets used globally.