Nearly Three decades after it was rolled out, the Bhopal Shatabdi Express will get a complete makeover with “Train 18” — a metro-like trainset that does not need to be pulled by an engine — set to replace the existing engine-pulled train.
The first 16-coach trainset, designed and built at the Indian Railways’ Integral Coach Factory in Chennai, was unveiled by Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani at the factory premises on Monday. It took a record 18 months to make it as opposed to the around three years that private industry players generally take to build a product like this from scratch.
Capable of running at a top speed of 160 kmph, Train 18 significantly reduces the current run time of the Shatabdi, officials said. This is because trainsets have much faster acceleration and deceleration than conventional engine-pulled trains. Each coach or car carries its own traction power pack fit underneath and the trainset has a driver’s cabin on either end.
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. Designers in the ICF have hit the reset button in terms of the look and feel of the train, which means the design imprint of the usual Linke Hoffmann Busche coaches has been completely done away with.
From the continuous, seamless glass window across each car to the design of the toilets (bio-vacuum like in aircraft), rotating seats to correspond with the direction of the train in the Executive Class, automatic sliding doors inside coaches, Train 18 is a new product, officials said.
Automated sliding footsteps will also form a temporary bridge between the train and the platform to prevent any accidental slip. Emergency talk back units (through which passengers can talk to crew in case of Emergency) and CCTVs are provided in all coaches for safe and secure travel, railways said.
“This all AC chair-car formation is expected to replace the existing Shatabdi Express rakes for inter-city travel and considerably reduce the travelling time due to its better acceleration/ deceleration,” a railway statement said.
Train 18 is getting ready at an approximate cost of Rs 100 crore per rake, which is about half the price of importing such a rake.