NEW DELHI: The state-of-the-art Vande Bharat Express is a hallmark of the success of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ mission. It has the potential to give a boost to the economy. This is evident with the speed at which the development and modernisation of Railways is taking place under his leadership.
PM Modi is taking forward the vision of Mahatma Gandhi, who showed to the world how to apply simple solutions to the biggest of problems. One such philosophy during the freedom movement was ‘Swadeshi’ and the Railways played an integral part in Gandhi’s struggle for freedom by forming a connect with the people of India. Vande Bharat Express is totally ‘Swadeshi’ and is on a par with the latest rail transport technology across the world. The train is a big tribute that PM Modi has given to the ideals of Mahatama Gandhi, with his vision of ‘Make in India’. The Railways is getting transformed on the lines of ‘Make in India’ and making an unprecedented contribution in the growth of the economy. The Vande Bharat Express is said to be also the true manifestation of ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’. PM Modi has transformed the condition of the Indian Railways and Vande Bharat Express is a glimpse of that effort.
During the last few years, the Railway has been among the sectors that made great strides in manufacturing under Make in India. Also, modernisation work of the rail coach factories and electrification of diesel engines are underway and new factories have been set up for the purpose. As per the Prime Minister’s aspirations, all railway stations will be converted into the hub of technology and expansion. Today, 5000 stations have been equipped with the free Wi-Fi facilities. The Indian Railways has also succeeded in making the stations healthy and clean by conducting cleanliness programme across 6,500 stations. It has installed CCTVs in trains and stations which will provide a safe environment to the passengers. Besides, it has provisioned all stations with escalators, waiting-rooms with class features, LED lights, special toilets and digital boards at the entrances and exits.
The Vande Bharat Express is the best in technology when compared to other modern trains. The first such train, from Delhi to Varanasi, was flagged off by the Prime Minister in February 2019 and the second train that connects Delhi to Katra, in October the same year. The train recently flagged by PM Modi from Ahmadabad to Mumbai is the third Vande Bharat Express.
For a long time, no serious efforts were made to free the cities from jams and to increase the speed of trains. But today’s India requires speed and fast development. This insistence on speed is reflected in the Gati Shakti National Master Plan and the National Logistics Policy and is also evident in the drive to increase the speed of trains. Today the country’s rail network rapidly needs Made-in-India Vande Bharat trains with speeds up to 180 kmph. This will change the condition, and the direction, of Indian Railways. The Government has plans to launch 75 such trains by August next year. The uniqueness of Vande Bharat Express is that it reaches a speed of 100 kmph in just 52 seconds.
India for long had plans to introduce a high-speed rail network to catch up with the rapidly growing world. But more than the speed and shortening travel time, safety and cost were the primary concerns for the Indian Railways. The country also lagged in the race for high-speed transit technology because it was very expensive and the Indian Railways had to deal with safety and ageing tracks first. However, it aimed at increasing the then prevailing maximum speed of 85 km/h to 150 km/h.
The Indian Railways went on to achieve the 99 miles per hour mark by the mid-2010s after the introduction of Gatimaan Express in 2016, which is still the fastest operating train to date. The next logical step was to build a modern higher-speed rail. When the Indian railways floated a tender in June 2015, it found none of the bids to be viable and hence decided to move ahead to build it completely in India. In early 2017, it was planned that the indigenous engine-less (EMU) semihigh-speed train, with modern facilities onboard would run at a speed of 160 km/h. Two new train sets were manufactured in ICF, Chennai, which were under the name ‘Train-2018’, now known as Vande Bharat.
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