Fifth Vande Bharat Express to launch in Southern India on Bengaluru-Mysuru-Chennai route

ByDeeksha Devadiga

Published Oct 16, 2022 | 10:05 AMUpdatedOct 16, 2022 | 10:05 AM

Fifth Vande Bharat Express to launch in Southern India on Bengaluru-Mysuru-Chennai route

The Vande Bharat Express is set to debut in South India on 10 November on the Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysuru route.

It will be the fifth Vande Bharat train to be launched.

The nation’s first semi-high-speed train was flagged off from Delhi to Varanasi on 15 February, 2019. It also makes stops at Kanpur and Allahabad. The second train, introduced in October 2019, runs between Delhi and Katra in Jammu and Kashmir.

The third runs between Mumbai and the Gujarat capital of Gandhinagar.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently flagged off the fourth Vande Bharat train from Una during his visit to Himachal Pradesh. The train runs between Delhi and the Amb Andaura railway station in Una.

A letter from the Southern Railway confirms the arrival of the Vande Bharat Express to the South. Pratap Simha, a Member of the Parliament, took to Twitter and shared the letter with the caption, “Vande-Bharat!”

Vande Bharat train features

The Vande Bharat trains are lighter and have a faster top speed. These trains take about 52 seconds to accelerate to 100 km/h and can reach a maximum speed of 160 km/h.

The semi-high-speed train is equipped with advanced state-of-the-art safety features, including an anti-collision system and an indigenously developed Train Collision Avoidance System called KAVACH.

The Vande Bharat trains are advanced model and lighter with faster top speed. (@VandeBharatExp/Twitter)

It also has four emergency windows for each coach, four platform side cameras instead of just two, and rearward cameras outside the coach. The disaster lights in the coaches come with a battery back-up of three hours.

Furthermore, it offers on-demand Wi-Fi connectivity-enabled infotainment system, and a 32-inch LCD screen in every coach.

As per the Ministry of Railways, the air inside the train gets filtered through a photo-catalytic ultraviolet purification system. It filters and cleans the air of germs, bacteria, viruses, etc., to the extent of 99 percent.

It also provides Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning (HVAC), and sliding footsteps in coaches, for a better passenger experience and saving about 30 percent on electricity with its advanced regenerative braking system.

Seating arrangements

The Vande Bharat train has 16 coaches, with a total seating capacity of 1,128 passengers. It offers two spacious options — AC Chair Car (CC) and Executive Chair Car (EC). While all seats are recliners, the executive coaches will experience the added feature of 360-degree rotating seats.

All coach seats are recliners but the executive coaches has an added feature of 360-degree rotating seats. (@RailMinIndia/Twitter)

The seats are also equipped with Braille lettering and texts for specially-abled passengers. Some coaches of the Vande Bharat Express train will also have spaces to park wheelchairs so that the disabled do not face any kind of difficulty.

Anticipation and uncertainties 

KN Krishna Prasad, a train enthusiast, marks the arrival of the first Vande Bharat train to the South as a proud moment. He told South First, “This is a first for South and it’s a proud moment for me that it is happening in South India and that too so quickly. Elections could be one of the factors, but nevertheless it’s happening.”

Talking about what sets the Vande Bharat train apart from the existing Shatabdi trains, he said, “The one big advantage is it saves time in the coupling and decoupling of the engine. Unlike the Shatabdi, the train has engines in on both ends. This will reduce delays.”

Another train enthusiast, Sanjeev V Dyamannavar, has high expectations of the new arrival.

“Southern India is finally getting its first Vande Bharat train. It was manufactured in Chennai, but the first few trains were introduced in the north, so now that it’s here it will definitely be welcomed,” he told South First.

Dyamannavar, a traffic expert and founding member of Praja, also believes the ground-level situation of the tracks and infrastructure is quite poor and needs improvement.

“Many trains have been introduced in the past but the ground level issues remain poor. The prime minister and Railways officials have heavily invested in these trains to make them comfortable and high-speed, but at the same time ground difficulties like maintenance of tracks and timings also need to be addressed on a priority, especially in the Bengaluru-Mysuru section,” he said.

“Most tracks in the Bengaluru-Mysuru-Chennai section are in residential areas and lack fencing on the tracks and it will be very difficult for a common man to see the train coming through the curves sections in crossings and could prove to be fatal”.

Krishna Prasad also highlighted the geographical terrain which might act as a speed restriction for the high-speed train.

“From Chennai to Bengaluru we are on a gradient and we are climbing from 0 to 3,000 feet. So, after Jolarpettai, the train takes more time to climb; naturally, the speed gets reduced. It will take some time for the officials to strengthen the tracks and implement changes.”

What is still unclear is if the Vande Bharat train is in addition to, or a replacement for, the existing Shatabdi Express trains. Railways officials are yet to confirm the same.

Dyamannavar fears that if they are an addition to the existing train, the Vande Bharat trains will be given priority which will affect the running time of other trains.

Accidents and memes

In February 2019, on its second day of service, the newly-launched Vande Bharat Express hit a stray bull near Etawah in Uttar Pradesh. The aerodynamic nose of the train, made of steel with a fibre covering, was damaged. A similar case was reported in August 2019.

In another incident, which happened recently, the front portion of a Vande Bharat Express was damaged after it collided with a herd of buffaloes in Gujarat only days after the train was flagged off by Prime Minister Modi.

This incident led to many jokes and comments on social media platforms.