PM Narendra Modi flags off India’s fastest train Vande Bharat
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today flagged off India’s first engineless train, the Vande Bharat Express, from the New Delhi Railway Station amid sombre mood in the backdrop of the terror attack in Pulwama, counted among the bloodiest in Kashmir.
The flagging off ceremony of much awaited Vande Bharat Express that will run between New Delhi and Varanasi was a low key affair in view of the Kashmir attack. PM Modi, speaking at the event, said the country will give a “strong response” to this attack.
On Thursday, an explosives laden truck rammed into a CRPF convoy in Pulwama outside Srinagar, killing 38 soldiers in one of the biggest terror attacks in recent years.
“Going ahead with Vande Bharat Express inauguration despite Pulwama attack befitting answer to terrorists,” said Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who was also attending the event.
The Railways recently named the indigenously manufactured Train 18 as Vande Bharat Express in an acknowledgement of its Made-in-India status. The semi-high speed train is set to run between New Delhi and Varanasi at a maximum speed of 160 kilometre per hour.
Watch: PM Modi flags off Vande Bharat Express, India’s fastest Train
The 16-coach train was built in 18 months at a cost of Rs 97 crore by the Integral Coach Factory in Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli. The first locomotive-less train in the country is being seen as a successor to the 30-year-old premier Shatabdi Express.
The fully air-conditioned train will stop at Kanpur and Allahabad and will have two executive chair cars. Officials have said the gleaming blue-nosed train comes fitted with amenities at par with the best in the world. It would have onboard WiFi, GPS-based passenger information system, touch-free bio-vacuum toilets, LED lighting, mobile charging points and a climate control system that adjusts the temperature according to occupancy and weather.
The semi-high speed train has two classes of tickets, executive and chair car, and will have differently priced meals. The railways have reduced the AC chair car fare to Rs 1,760 from Rs 1,850 and the executive class fare to Rs 3,310 from Rs 3,520 for a Delhi-Varanasi trip, an official order said. On the return journey, the chair car ticket would cost Rs 1,700 and the executive car ticket will be priced at Rs 3,260, it said.
However, there would be no concessions on tickets in the Vande Bharat Express or Train18 like the ones given to senior citizens in other trains and only full-fare adult tickets would be issued, the railway order said. The fares are inclusive of the catering service charges, the order said.
The ticket fares between Delhi and Kanpur will be Rs 1,090 instead of Rs 1,150 in the chair car and Rs 2,105 instead of Rs 2,245 in executive class for a distance of 447 km, the order said. Between Delhi and Prayagraj (642 km), the ticket price for chair car class will be Rs 1,395 (instead of Rs 1,480) and Rs 2,750 (instead of Rs 2,935) for the executive class.
The cost of the chair car ticket from Kanpur to Prayagraj (195 km) will be Rs 595 instead of Rs 630, and for the executive class it will be Rs 1,170 instead of Rs 1,245, the order said. The prices between Kanpur and Varanasi (319 km) for a chair car ticket will be Rs 1,020 instead of Rs 1,065 and an executive class ticket will cost Rs 1,815 instead of Rs 1925.
The train will have differently priced meals as well.
While passengers travelling from New Delhi to Varanasi in the executive class will be charged Rs 399 for morning tea, breakfast and lunch, travellers in the chair car will need to pay Rs 344 for the same. Those travelling from New Delhi to Kanpur and Prayagraj will have to pay Rs 155 and Rs 122 for executive class and chair car, respectively.
From Varanasi to New Delhi, the passengers will be charged Rs 349 and Rs 288 in the executive class and chair, respectively. While there will be no option to opt out of meals for the passengers of the train, the ones travelling its first or final legs have been given that option. Passengers can save Rs 222 on CC tickets and Rs 244 on EC tickets by opting out of the meals provided by the IRCTC.
Meals not optional
Meals on board the Vande Bharat Express will not be optional for passengers unlike in premium trains such as Shatabdi, Rajdhani and Duronto express, where travellers can choose not to avail the catering services.
Passengers travelling the last leg on the route of the train, Allahabad to Varanasi, can opt out of the meals provided by the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), in advance while booking their tickets. The catering charges would not be included in their ticket prices.
The meal prices for other passengers will be part of the ticket fare of the train which will run from Varanasi to Delhi on its maiden journey on February 15. If the passengers who have opted out in advance want a meal during their travel, they will have to shell out an extra Rs 50 for it.
This also reduced the cost of the tickets on these trains by around Rs 250.
(With agency inputs)