Officials said they have approached Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) seeking time for the launch by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which is likely after the presentation of the budget. The first train is slated to run between New Delhi and Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s Lok Sabha constituency.
With all the safety clearances, trials and tests in place, the railways is all set to launch the indigenously-built Train-18 with fares that are likely to be around 40-50 per cent higher than the Shatabdi Express, officials said.
They said that the engineless Train-18, whose traction equipment is mounted below the bogies, got the final clearance of the Electrical Inspector to the Government (EIG) on Thursday and “thus we have approached the PMO seeking time for the inaugural run of the train on the New Delhi-Varanasi route”.
Earlier this month, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had said that the Train-18 will run between New Delhi and Varanasi and it will cover the 755 km distance in eight hours with stoppages at Kanpur and Prayagraj. It will be the fastest train on the route. The current fastest train takes around 11-and-a-half-hours to complete the journey.
Hinting at the fare of the train, the officials said that it will be almost 40-50 per cent higher than the Executive and Chair Class fares of the Shatabdi Express trains.
The Executive Class fare would be between Rs 2,800 and Rs 2,900 while that of the Chair Car would be between Rs 1,600 and 1,700.
The Train-18, built by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai, has undergone extensive trials under the supervision of Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow. It has successfully completed trials up to a speed of 180 kmph. The train is capable of touching a maximum speed of 200 kmph.
Train 18, which runs on electric traction like Metro trains, will start replacing the Shatabdi Express fleet from next year, the officials said.
The new train has a number of features to enhance passenger comfort which include inter-connected fully-sealed gangways, automatic doors with retractable footsteps, onboard Wi-Fi and infotainment, GPS-based passenger information system, modular toilets with bio-vacuum systems, rotational seats which can be aligned in the direction of travel (available only in the Executive Class), roller blinds and diffused LED lighting and disabled-friendly toilets.