To reduce the travel time from Mumbai to Pune, Nashik, Surat and Baroda, the Indian Railways has decided to run mini versions of Vande Bharat Express or Train 18 that are simply improved avatars of locals.
Officials from the Railway Board, the top decision-making body of the Railways, said they aim to connect the country’s financial capital with these cities with a maximum journey time of 3 hours.
The homegrown Vande Bharat Express has reduced the travel time between New Delhi and Varanasi by 40 per cent.
The Railways plans to connect Mumbai with Pune, Nashik and Surat in 2 hours, while the trains will cover Mumbai-Baroda distance in 3 hours. At present, an express train on Mumbai-Pune route takes between 3 hours and 3.30 hours. Similarly, the Mumbai-Baroda trains take a minimum of 4 hours and 30 minutes.
Railway officials said the mini version of Vande Bharat Express, which can touch a top speed of 160 kmph, will be run at a maximum speed of 130 kmph. The new trains can ferry 2,618 passengers, way more than the carrying capacity of an express train.
“We intend to reduce the travel time to these cities. We have the rakes and technology for running faster trains. The main challenges would be congestion, infrastructure upgrade and improving quality of tracks,” said Rajesh Agrawal, member (rolling stock), Railway Board.
With shuttle-like trains, called mainline electrical multiple units by the railways, people will be able to use the rakes the way they ride local trains in Mumbai. This means buying tickets will be a hassle-free affair.
These trains also have CCTVs, talk back system and GPS based passenger information system.
Apart from the mini versions of Train 18s, the railways will also conduct trials for running AC locals beyond Virar all the way up to Dahanu.