Train 18:India's first engineless train gets clearance for commercial run

The Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety (CCRS) on December 23, 2018 gave clearance for the commercial run of the Train-18, India's first engineless train, following a successful trial run at a speed of up to 160 kmph.

The 16-coach train was inspected on December 19 at Safdarjung station of Delhi and thereafter a speed trial was conducted between Safdarjung and Agra on December 20, 2018.

Prior to Safdarjung-Agra trial, the Railways had conducted a speed trial of the Train-18 at the Moradabad and Kota sections where the train crossed the 180 kmph speed limit during a test run in the Kota-Sawai Madhopur section. On the other hand, the train ran up to 115 km per hour on tracks in Moradabad division of Northern Railway.

The trials proved that the train has defined track geometry parameters, curved alignments of specific radius and station yard zones.

Train 18 was rolled out on October 29, 2018 by Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani at the Chennai’s Integral Coach Factory (ICF). Touted as the Next Generation Shatabdi Express, this is the first long-distance train without separate locomotive (engine).

Fencing of tracks

However, the CCRS also recommended certain precautionary measures like fencing and regular greasing of all the curves on the route. For speeds beyond 130 kmph and up to 160 kmph, the CCRS recommended the fencing of tracks to ensure safety.

Initially, Train-18 will be running at a maximum speed of 130 kmph like the Rajdhani service. Once the fencing work is complete, the speed will go up to 160 kmph. The Rail fencing is essential for 160 kmph speeds to prevent trespassing of people or cattle on the tracks.

Features of ‘Train 18’

Train 18 is driven by a self-propulsion module without a separate locomotive.

It is capable of running at a speed of up to 160 kmph. It will cut travel time by 15 percent compared to the Shatabdi Express.

The superior 16-coach model of the train has been developed by the Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in time span of just 18 months. Passengers can have a look at the driver’s cabin.

It took an investment of nearly Rs 100 crore to build this prototype and the subsequent production would bring down the cost.

It is fully air-conditioned train and is equipped with CCTV cameras.

It has two executive compartments in the middle with 52 seats each and the trailer coaches would have 78 seats each.

Train 18 has soft lighting, automatic doors, footsteps and GPS-based Passenger Information System.

The footstep in a coach’s doorway slides outward when the train stops at a station enabling passengers to board or deboard safely with comfort.

The train offers some features to enhance passenger comfort which include inter-connected fully sealed gangways, automatic doors with retractable footsteps, onboard Wi-Fi and infotainment, and modular toilets with bio-vacuum systems.

It also features rotational seats which can be aligned in the direction of travel (executive class), roller blinds and diffused LED lighting, and disabled-friendly toilets.

Train 18 is regarded as a successor to the 30-year-old Shatabdi Express. Shatabdi was introduced in 1988 and is presently running on over 20 routes connecting metros with other important cities.

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