Made in India high-speed rail is expanding

PM Modi inaugurates new express offering speeds three times faster than regular trains

The high-speed Vande Bharat Express train runs along the tracks after being inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad, India on Friday. (Photo Reuters)

AHMEDABAD, India: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday launched a third Indian-made high-speed train in his home state of Gujarat, as part of plans to modernize the country’s rail network.

New Delhi plans to launch 75 of the Vande Bharat Express trains by August 2023 to connect all major industrial and commercial cities. The trains have a maximum speed of 160 kilometers per hour (kmh).

The average speed of Indian trains has remained around 50 km/h and that of freight trains around 25 km/h, which has weighed on the revenue of the state railways, according to a national auditor’s report in April .

The 16-coach Vande Express, with a capacity of 1,128 passengers, will provide a better experience for travelers even compared to flying, Modi said.

The latest train – with updated passenger facilities from the previous two models – will link India’s financial capital, Mumbai, to Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat state, a senior railways official has said. iron.

Pathik Patwari, President of the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry, welcomed the launch. “Many business people who don’t travel much by train due to the long travel time will start traveling by train now,” he said.

The weight of the latest train has been reduced by 38 tonnes from previous versions to 392 tonnes, ensuring a more comfortable ride, and it can continue to operate even in two feet of water, officials said.

A spokesman for Integrated Coach Factory, Chennai, which made the train, told Reuters it was designed entirely in India, using 80% local materials, and would cost around 11 billion rupees ($135 million). dollars).

He said the state-run plant aims to produce at least 27 by March 2023, in addition to high-speed freight trains soon.

Indian Railways, which has seen declining passenger revenue in both years of the pandemic, is on the road to recovery, with total revenue up 37% year-on-year to 964.3 billion rupees (11 .8 billion dollars) over the period April-August.

Jose P. Rogers