The Vande Bharat Express, or Train 18 as it is more popularly called, broke down on Saturday - a day after its launch. The train was returning from Varanasi after its first run and broke down near Tudla Junction in Uttar Pradesh. According to a statement of the Railways Ministry, "the Vande Bharat Express was standing 18km from Tundla since 6.30 am. There seems to be disruption due to a possible cattle run over. It wasn't a scheduled commercial run. Commercial operations begin from February 17. After removing the obstacle, the journey to Delhi resumed around 8.15 am."
However, According to NDTV, engineers on the train said that the controls have failed and the snag is "unfixable" for now. The people on board, including journalists, have been shifted to two different trains. The train was supposed to make its first commercial run on Sunday. Electricity went off in several coaches as well.
The train began making a suspicious noise early Saturday morning after which its wheels skid and the breaks jammed in one of the trailing coaches. Four coaches turned ‘dead load’, meaning they have no power to move, as per reports in the Indian Express.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged off India's first semi high-speed train on Friday from the New Delhi Railway Station amid a sombre mood because of the Pulwama terror attack on a CRPF convoy. Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and members of the Railway Board were present on the occasion. "I am grateful to designers and engineers behind Vande Bharat Express which will take its first trip from Delhi to Varanasi today. With our sincerity and hardwork in the last 4.5 years we have tried to improve railways," the PM said.
The train will travel from Delhi to Varanasi in 9 hours and 45 minutes. This includes stoppage time of 40 minutes each at Kanpur and Allahabad where there will be special programmes. The PM inspected the train and said he was proud that such a train had been produced indigenously at the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai in 18 months.
The semi high-speed Train 18, which has been recently rechristened Vande Bharat Express, can run up to a maximum speed of 160 kmph and has travel classes like Shatabdi trains but with better facilities. It aims to provide a totally new travel experience to passengers. The bookings for the train have begun and it will run commercially from February 17 from Delhi to Varanasi five days a week.
Here’s all you need to know about Train 18:
(With PTI inputs)