The much-awaited Train 18 is already being touted as India’s ‘fastest’ train, as it makes its debut on the tracks with the trial runs. Being a successor to the 30-year-old Shatabdi Express, there’s a good chance it is going to be as perfect as it sounds. The train is said to have many state-of-the-art features to its credit including seats that can rotate 360 degrees and can be aligned in the direction of travel. The train is also said to be self-propelled, which means it does not have an engine and will cut travel time by 15 per cent as compared to the Shatabdi.
The fully-air conditioned Train 18 comes with other facilities on-board like the Wi-Fi, touch-free toilets, sliding doors and continuous windows for a contemporary modern look. It also has diffused lighting and charging points at every seat. The train comes fitted with CCTV cameras for close monitoring of passenger movement, and 16 coaches in all, with a capacity for over 1,100 people. This includes two executive compartments with a maximum seating capacity of 56 and 14 non-executive chair cars which can seat 78 passengers.
Manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai, built at a cost of Rs. 100 crore, the first trainset has a few imported components such as French-made seats, brakes and couplers from Germany, along with a Czech-made door system, that are subsequently going to be indigenised. Train 18 has improved safety features for passengers such as the doors opening only after the train stops, like in a metro. The train would start only after all doors are shut.
After test runs in Chennai, Train 18 will run at 160 kmph as opposed to 130 kmph of the Shatabdi. The train will reach Delhi on November 7 and then move to the Moradabad-Bareilly section for a second round of test run. The final trial will be held between Kota and Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan. The train is likely replace the Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi Express, and perhaps the Howrah-New Delhi Shatabdi thereafter.