Vande Bharat trains: We all know that the Indian Railways has the largest rail network and is the biggest public transportation network in the world. Interestingly, the fare for travelling through this network is the lowest compared to other railways across the world. Due to this, the railways always dwelled in losses, and hence the facilities got worse and the railroad’s operation developed fault lines.
After the Modi government came to power, it had the clear vision to strike a balance between world-class railway infrastructure and easy access for the common people. This led to many changes, but the biggest transformation for the Indian Railway was the introduction of the Vande Bharat Express.
Vande Bharat is the most appropriate name
On April 12, PM Modi inaugurated Rajasthan’s first Vande Bharat Express, which will run on the New Delhi-Ajmer route through Jaipur. It is the 15th Vande Bharat Express, while more are yet to come.
In 2018, when Train was launched, it achieved a maximum speed of 180 kmph during testing. Train 18, which was developed by Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai and is being developed in India under the Make in India initiative, was named Vande Bharat Express on January 27, 2019. The train was named so because of its complete indigenous production, which glorifies Bharat. It was made with low-cost maintenance and operational optimization in mind. The cost of a 16-coach Vande Bharat train is about ₹115 crore (US$14 million).The cost of an 8-coach Mini Vande Bharat (MVB2) train is about ₹70 crore (US$8.8 million).
Vande Bharat is based on MEMU (Mainline Multi Electric Unit) trains that have been operational since the 1990s. After many rounds of testing, the first train was inaugurated on the Delhi-Varanasi route on February 15, 2019. This reduced the travel time by 15 percent. Inspired by the success of the first Vande Bharat, the second one was launched on the Delhi-Katra route.
However, Vande Bharat is not accepted as a symbol of glory by many opposition parties. Taking their status as opposition literally, they failed to portray the essence of constructive criticism that a responsible opposition must have. Right now Vande Bharat is the best train in the country, and still it hounds many, maybe because they think that these types of reforms will close all the possible doors to their comeback to power.
Being enthusiastic by the success of the train and its optimistic impact on Indian Railway, Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman announced in the Union Budget 2022–23 that 400 new-generation Vande Bharat trains will be developed and manufactured during the next three years.
As of now, there are 15 Vande Bharat operational on various routes. But it is not done yet, there are 4 more trains that are to be launched in 2023. This includes Vande Bharat on the Patna-Ranchi route, the Kannur-Thiruvananthapuram route, the Bengaluru-Hyderabad route, and the Bengaluru-Hubballi-Dharwad route.
Not so believable features for Indian railways
Talking about the features of the train, it has an ‘Intelligent braking system’ which enables better acceleration and deceleration. All coaches are equipped with automatic doors, a GPS-based audio-visual passenger information system, on-board hotspot Wi-Fi for entertainment purposes, and very comfortable seating. The executive class also has rotating chairs. All toilets are bio-vacuum types. The lighting is in dual mode, viz. diffused for general illumination and personal for every seat. Every coach has a pantry with facilities to serve hot meals, hot and cold beverages. The insulation is meant to keep heat and noise to very low levels for additional passenger comfort. It also has provision for Divyang-friendly facilities. Adding up the green footprints, the train has a regenerative braking system in the coaches which can save up to 30% of electrical energy. The Vande Bharat Express train has fully sealed gangways and censored interconnecting doors for a dust free environment. A fire survival cable indoor circuit will also be available on the train. There will also be an improved air conditioning system.
With restless efforts, the train is under constant reformation, and new versions are developed according to the need of the route. To that extent, currently there are 7 versions of the train. The first version is Vande Bharat 1.0 (VB1). Then there is VB2, i.e., Vande Bharat 2.0, which is faster and lighter than VB1. It achieves the speed of 100 kmph in 52 seconds, whereas VB1 takes 54 seconds. One step at a time, right!
The third version is an 8 coach train called Mini Vande Bharat Express 2.0 (MVB2). The fourth version is the Vande Bharat Express 2.0 Modified (VB2M1) which has additional parking brakes and a traction motor system to cross the steep valleys and hillslopes.
Vande Bharat 2.0 Modified 2 (VB2M2), the fifth version, is for high-rise overhead Electric OHE (territory) built for accommodating double-stacked containers and Double Decker Express trains. Recently PM Modi has inaugurated, is a VB2M2 version train for New Delhi-Ajmer route.
The sixth version of the train is Vande Bharat 3.0 (VB3) which will give a conventional feeling of travelling in sleeper coaches for the first time. The final and seventh version of the train is Vande Bharat 4.0 (VB4) which will achieve the highest speed of 200 kmph and will have alluminium alloy coaches.
Ashvini Vaishnav conducted a very common test
If we set aside technical details and focus on empirical evidence to prove the modernity of Vande Bharat, the most straightforward method is to personally travel on it. Additionally, during a seminar hosted by Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav, Vande Bharat’s features were extensively discussed. A video was presented during the seminar that depicted Vande Bharat operating at its maximum speed, with a glass full of water kept on a table. Despite the high velocity, the glass remained completely stable, thanks to the advanced cushion shock absorbers.
The development of Vande Bharat is a revolutionary step, and the whole world is stunned by India’s achievement, and that too in a short period of time. But as previously said, there are some politicians who criticise the train’s features and raise questions about its quality. We have earlier seen stone pelting on trains in West Bengal and Jharkhand.
The opposition leaders who still see Vande Bharat Express as a matter of political rivalry must change their stand. Raising questions on Vande Bharat will earn nothing but humiliation. They should take part in glorifying the achievements of India, and that will actually put them in a good light.
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