The decks have been cleared for the commercial operations of India's fastest train Train 18, which was designed and developed at Chennai's Integrated Coach Factory. The Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety has recommended running the train at a maximum speed of 105 km per hour (kmph) in non-Rajdhani tracks, while in Rajdhani sector it can go upto 160 km.
Shailesh Kumar Pathak, chief commissioner of Railway Safety said that the Commission of Railway Station had recommended to the Central Government for sanctioning operation of coaches of Train-18 up to a maximum speed of 105 kmph with 16-Coach formation, over Indian Railways on track maintained to C&M-I Volume-I Standards.
These tracks are used by one of the country's super-fast express Rajdhani, which has never crossed 110 kmph. Gatimaan Express is currently India's first semi-high speed train that runs between Delhi and Jhansi. It operates at a maximum speed of 160 kmph (99 miles per hour).
He also urged Railways to deploy competent electrical and mechanical personnel on Board so that any issue arising enroute can be suitably addressed.
ICF's newest train set, called Train 18 can go at a top speed of 160 km per hour, making it is among the country's fastest train sets. It will replace the ageing bogies of the Indian Railways' signature Shatabdi and Rajdhani trains, to begin with.
But the most interesting aspect of the train is that it is designed to run without an engine at the front, like the Delhi Metro trains, and developed almost indigenously in just 18 months at half the cost of an imported train.
It is the first time thata a high-speed train set of this type has been produced locally without entering into technological partnership with foreign companies, a feat that could yield huge savings for the Railways over the longer run.
The project picked up pace right after its approval by the Railway Board in April 2017. It was completed in just 18 months, a rare feat considering that a similar train set takes three to four years to complete globally.
Train-18 consists of 16 air-conditioned coaches, 12 of which are chair car with 78 seats each. Two coaches are executive type with 52 seats each and two are driving coaches with normal chair car and 44 seats each. These sets are expected to be ideal for intercity express trains which have a travel time of 6-7 hours.
The train set was developed at an approximate cost of Rs 100 crore per rake, which is 25 per cent higher than the cost of building a Shatabdi. But the cost will progressively decrease as more train sets are built. When compared to the cost of a similar imported train, it is 40–50 per cent cheaper. Add the technology fee payable to technology providers, and cost advantages become even starker.