Marquee train Vande Bharat breaks down
Tickets for the journey on the train, which can reach a top speed of 180kmph, have already been sold out. On its inaugural run on Friday, the train touched a top speed of 130 kmph.Updated: Feb 16, 2019 23:52 IST
Indian Railways’ Vande Bharat Express, the state-run transporter’s first semi-high speed train, broke down early on Saturday on the return journey to New Delhi from Varanasi, a day after it was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a day before its first commercial run. The breakdown, and a resultant three-hour delay, may have been caused by either stray cattle or an object coming under the train’s wheels,officials said.
But Vande Bharat’s first commercial journey will take place as scheduled on Sunday, the railway ministry said. Tickets for the journey on the train, which can reach a top speed of 180kmph, have already been sold out. On its inaugural run on Friday, the train touched a top speed of 130 kmph.
“India’s first semi-high speed train Vande Bharat Express successfully completed its inaugural run from Delhi to Varanasi on February 15 and is scheduled to start commercial run on Sunday from New Delhi,” railway ministry spokesperson Smita Vats Sharma said in a statement.
The engine-less train, which runs on electric traction and formerly called Train 18, was on its way back from Varanasi when the breakdown took place near Tundla, around 200 km from Delhi.
“Due to some object coming under the train’s wheel, the communication system of the last coach broke down affecting the train’s control management system, which stopped working,” said a senior railway ministry official. “The safety system of the train is such that an automatic brake gets activated whenever some system stops working.”
A few journalists and railway staff were on board when the snag occurred. According to those on board, there was a loud sound and the power systems in the last four coaches died. Since the train is new, the inspection team took time to identify the problem.
“During the transportation back from Varanasi it was stopped at Chamraula station of National Capital Region, about 18 kms after crossing Tundla station. 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 was checked for faults and moved to Delhi,” said a spokesperson for Indian Railways.
Northern Railway’s chief public relations officer Deepak Kumar had said in the morning that the breakdown “was a case of skidding wheels after the train ran over cattle.”
S Mani, former general manager of the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai, where the train was built, said he was satisfied with the overall performance of the train during its inaugural run and added that teething troubles were bound to occur. He called it a “unique product without any foreign intervention or transfer of technology.”
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.
The train has rotating seats, which can be aligned in the direction of travel in the executive class. It has toilets with a bio-vacuum system, modular luggage racks with a glass bottom and sliding doors in coaches. The trains that will be manufactured in future will be an improved version of this train.