India's first semi-high speed train the Vande Bharat Express (Train 18) will be flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday from the New Delhi railway station, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.
Bookings have started for the first commercial run of the Vande Bharat Express, billed as India's fastest train, on February 17 between Delhi and Varanasi, railways said Thursday.
Tickets can be bought over the counter or booked on irctc.co.in.
Train 18, which was recently renamed as Vande Bharat Express by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, became the country's fastest train by hitting speeds of over 180 kmph during a trial run on a section of the Delhi-Varanasi route.
However, speed restrictions on the route will mean that the new train set can hit a maximum speed of 130 kmph.
The train will leave the national capital at 6 am and reach Varanasi at 2 pm. On the same day, it will leave Varanasi at 3pm and reach Delhi at 11 pm. The Vande Bharat Express will operate for five days in a week, except on Monday and Thursday.
The train will travel from Delhi to Varanasi in nine hours and forty-five minutes. This includes stoppage time of 40 minutes each at Kanpur and Allahabad where there will be special programmes. At the New Delhi railway station, Modi will inspect the facilities in the train and address a gathering on the occasion.
The semi-high speed train can run up to a maximum speed of 160 kmph and has travel classes like the Shatabdi trains but with better facilities. It aims to provide a totally new travel experience to passengers.
From Delhi to Varanasi, an air-conditioned chair car ticket will cost Rs 1,760 and the executive class fare will be Rs 3,310, while in the return journey, a chair car ticket will cost Rs 1,700 and that of a seat in the executive class Rs 3,260. Both fares are inclusive of catering charges.
The chair car fares are 1.4 times the base price of Shatabdi trains running the same distance and that of the executive class 1.3 times of a first class air-conditioned ticket in the premium train.
It has 16 air-conditioned coaches of which two are executive class. The total seating capacity is 1,128 passengers. It is much more than the conventional Shatabdi rakes of equal number of coaches, thanks to shifting of all electric equipment below the coaches and seats in the driving coach also.
All coaches are equipped with automatic doors, GPS-based audio-visual passenger information system, on-board hotspot WiFi for entertainment purposes and very comfortable seating. All toilets are bio-vacuum type. The lighting is dual mode, that is diffused for general illumination and personal for every seat.
Every coach has a pantry facility to serve hot meals and, hot and cold beverages. The insulation is meant to keep heat and noise to very low levels for additional passenger comfort.
Adding up the green footprints, the train has regenerative braking system which can save up to 30 per cent of electrical energy.
The Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, has been the force behind the completely in-house design and manufacture of this train which was completed in just 18 months.