Come September, Indian Railways will roll out its first self-propelled, semi-high speed, engine-less train, code-named "Train 18" (named after the year in which it is being manufactured). Built under 'Make in India', at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, the train is expected to reach a top speed of 160 km per hour. IFC will manufacture six trains in total, two of which will house sleeper coaches.
In an interview with the Financial Express, Sudhanshu Mani, General Manager of ICF, said that the train is being designed by ICF with the help of consultants without any technology transfer. Earlier, the vendors who supplied items for the train were heavily depended on ready-made designs. Now, they have developed individual design capabilities.
Once rolled out, the train will be handed over to the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), which is a technical adviser to the Indian Railways. RDSO will conduct testing and give its validation to the train. Each coach of Train 18 is expected to cost around Rs 6 crore, which is 40 per cent less than the cost of such trains globally. Efforts would be made, in the near future, to further reduce this amount to Rs 5 crore.
Train 18 will be propelled through electric traction, similar to metro and local trains, and thus the need for a traditional engine will be dispensed. It will have 16 fully air-conditioned chair car coaches, 2 of which will be of executive-class. It is set to replace the existing Shatabdi Express for inter-city travel. However, the route on which the train will ply has not been finalized yet. It will encompass premium features like:
- Automatic doors with retractable footsteps
- Onboard Wi-Fi and infotainment
- GPS-based passenger information system
- Modular toilets with bio-vacuum systems
- AC coaches
- Rotational seats which can be aligned in the direction of travel, available only in the executive class
- Roller blinds and diffused LED lighting
- Accessible toilet for people with disability.
Mani further indicated that the concept of a distributed power train set for Mainline Express services is completely new for the Indian Railways. "Even though such trains are used in EMUs for local Trains - using it on Mainline express is altogether a different ball game," he added. For the adoption of such a new concept, the traction system and power required for air conditioning and train lighting have to be modularized and distributed across the train set. Features such as fully sealed gangways with exterior fairings between the coaches, automatic sliding footsteps, and aero-dynamic front-end will also be introduced for the first time.
Upon successful implementation of Train 18, IFC will start working on "Train 20" which will have an all aluminum body. Aluminum will make the train more aesthetic, lightweight, energy efficient, and durable.
Edited by Danny D'Cruze