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Chocolates to melt hearts of locals antagonistic to Train 18

The move comes in the wake of a series of cattle strike and stone-pelting incidents, which caused significant damage to India’s first semi-high speed train, also known as Train 18.

india Updated: Feb 26, 2019 07:23 IST
Faizan Haidar
Faizan Haidar
New Delhi
train 18,train,chocolates
Chocolates to melt hearts of locals antagonistic to Train 18.(PTI)

Counselling locals and distributing chocolates among slum children to dissuade them from stone-pelting, placing a “cattle guard” in front of the Vande Bharat train are among a slew of measure the Indian Railways has initiated to protect its flagship train from future damage, two senior officials familiar with the matter said.

The move comes in the wake of a series of cattle strike and stone-pelting incidents, which caused significant damage to India’s first semi-high speed train, also known as Train 18.

The engine-less train, which runs on electric traction, was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 15. It can reach a top speed of 180kmph.

The train’s aerodynamic nose, which is made of steel with a fibre cover on it, was damaged severely and had to be replaced after a bull hit it from the front last Friday.

A day later, the driver’s windscreen and windows of some coaches were damaged after flying ballast hit it on its way to Delhi. One of the officials said, currently there is a shortage of spare parts and glasses, although it is planning to arrange more for future use.

It is also considering placing a cattle protection guard on the front portion in the upcoming trains. Railway minister Piyush Goyal has set a target of 130 more such trains. The second will be rolled out in March and in 2019-20, the railways aims to manufacture 10 such trains.

“We have already replaced a dozen of glasses following the damage caused recently and will ensure that we have strengthened glasses in trains that will join. The front portion will also be strengthened considering the train doesn’t have a locomotive, which used to absorb the damage in case of a cattle run.

In this case, the impact of a hit comes directly to the driver cabin,” said Rajesh Aggarwal, member (rolling stock) of the Railway Board.

The Railway Protection Force (RPF), which is entrusted with securing railway property, is also being roped in to identify areas where stone-pelting usually takes place and take corrective measures, said the official.

“We will not take action but instead educate the people in areas where stone-pelting is happening. Railway Protection Force personnel had gone with chocolates and toys to Shakurbasti slums in Delhi and counselled the children. There are some areas in Tundla and Kanpur also, where our staff will go and counsel the locals,” said Arun Kumar, director general of the RPF.

S Mani, former general manager of Integral Coach Factory (ICF), where the train was built, claimed, fencing along railway tracks is the best solution.

“We had anticipated the issue and a protective guard at the front would have ruined the look. Also, it will affect the performance of the train since it is aerodynamic. Ultimately, when the train has to run at 160 kmph, we will need fencing,’ Mani said

First Published: Feb 26, 2019 07:22 IST