In what comes as a welcome news for the Indian Railways, it has been reported by the Times Of India that the Vande Bharat Express, India’s first semi-high speed train, which plies between Delhi and Varanasi is turning out to be highly successful as far as revenue collection is concerned and is set to pay for its manufacturing costs within twelve to fifteen months solely out of its earnings. Its current earnings stand at an impressive Rs. 7 crore per month.
Addressing the industry leaders at a meet organised by the CII, Railway Board Member Rajesh Agarwal said, “We are confident that the amount spent in manufacturing the first Vande Bharat Express will be recovered in 12 months or so considering the revenue its generating from sale of tickets. It’s running with full occupancy.” Around Rs. 100 crores were spent on manufacturing the Vande Bharat Express which plies on the Delhi-Varanasi route. However, with its impressive earnings, the manufacturing costs seem well justified.
Speaking about the successful train, Agarwal stated that the train has probably brought a new class of passengers to the Railways. He said, “A section of people who used to avoid taking trains are using Vande Bharat Express for commuting.” Currently, the train runs for five days in a week. However, sources say that the Chennai-based Integrated Coach Factory (ICF) has delivered a second rake of the train which will also be put into service on the Delhi-Varanasi route giving the Railways the option of extending the service to the entire week further enhancing the already impressive revenue from Vande Bharat Express.
The Vande Bharat Express which has clearly set a new milestone in the history of the Indian Railways came into the picture last year when the Railways decided to bring a major change by replacing Shatabdi Express with ‘Train 18’ (Vande Bharat Express). The ultra-modern ‘Train 18’ is engine less, the coaches are self-propelled like metro and are indigenously made at Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai. The train is equipped with digital platforms, onboard Wi-Fi services and high-end interiors. S Mani, General Manager Integral Coach Factory, had said at that time, “Train 18 will be able to attain speeds of 160 kmph which means travel time will come down by at least 15 per cent when compared to Shatabdi. The new technology will also save around 20 percent in terms of life cycle cost and will require less maintenance as compared to Shatabdi. The weight of Train 18 is also considerably less since no locomotives or power cars are required, the net energy required is less”.
The train had to face a lot of unwarranted criticism and negative propaganda despite introducing world-class technology into the Indian Railways and virtually propelling the PSU into a new era. It had been reported that Train-18 (Vande Bharat Express) had faced a few glitches on its first commercial run and since then it became a soft target for many in the liberal cabal. In the wake of Lok Sabha election, the liberal establishment had gone to the extent of doing extensive hit jobs against the NDA government. In order to take forward their anti-Modi narrative, the so-called journalists and intellectuals crossed all the limits and started peddling absurd lies about PM Modi’s dream project, the Vande Bharat Express. Railways Minister Piyush Goyals’s out-of-the-box, innovative and enthusiastic approach has, while drawing admiration from most, also rattled many critics.
It is clear that the Vande Bharat Express has proven the naysayers wrong. It has also redefined the way the Indian Railways function and how people perceive the introduction of new innovations. The success of the indigenously produced engineering marvel has showcased the true potential of the Indian Railways and Make In India. This also provides a valid ground for the introduction of bullet trains in India. At the time of its introduction, even the semi-high speed, engine-less Vande Bharat, was viewed with suspicion. However, it has taken no time to turn into a highly successful venture indicating that the same might also be true for bullet trains. With the kind of demand for world-class rail service that we already have, the government now has the full freedom of going ahead on such ventures, planning extensively towards the future of Indian transport without worrying too much about critics.