Hours after completing its maiden run, the flagship Train 18 Vande Bharat Express broke down near Tundla in UP on its way to New Delhi from Varanasi early Saturday.
The train’s brakes jammed and power went out in the last four coaches due to an electrical snag. The train rolled for several kilometres with a rattling sound, as smoke and a burning smell filled the rear coaches, which officials said are usually the classic signs of “brake binding”.
Railway officials said they were working on the problem and that it was a minor issue. “The brake application remained charged. It was attended to in Hathras. We are diagnosing it. It is a minor issue,” said a senior officer who is involved with the process. The Sunday Express was on board the train, which only had officials, security staff and a few others. This was not a commercial run.
The train started on its return journey from Varanasi at 10.30 pm. The onboard display showed it touching speeds upwards of 120 kmph several times.
Around 4.30 am, lights went out in all coaches, but later came back on. As the train slowed down, smoke and a burning smell started to come in the rear four coaches. The train was stopped and officials inspected the underside of coaches with torches. Once the train started, it rolled at 10 kmph, and technicians were seen speaking to senior officers on the phone. Power went out in the last four coaches, and one of the officials on board was heard saying on the phone that the coaches had become “dead load” and that a wheel was “flat”.
The train came to a halt at a place that onboard staff said was Bahran, 18 km from Tundla. The Railways later said the place was near Chamraula. Around 8.30 am, the train was taken to Hathras, where it was attended to for a couple of hours. It reached New Delhi around 1 pm. The Vande Bharat Express will be on its first commercial run on Sunday as scheduled.
“There was an issue of communication between the last basic unit of four coaches and the rest of the train probably due to some external hit. Thereafter, safety features in the train applied brakes… The train has been examined at New Delhi maintenance depot to rectify the defect in communication that occurred en route. All other systems of the train have also been thoroughly examined,” the Railways said in a statement.