Day after its launch by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the engine-less Delhi-Varanasi Vande Bharat Express, India’s fastest train, broke down on its way back to Delhi on Saturday morning. Train 18 was returning from Varanasi and broke down near Tundla, around 200 km from Delhi. After remaining halted for almost three hours , the train resumed its run around 8.15 am, said the railways.
The commercial run of the train was to start on Sunday, 17 February, and the IRCTC website shows all tickets booked.
Journalists from different media organisations were travelling in the train during its inaugural run, and some of them tweeted early in the morning that the train had halted near Tundla.
The train staff told the reporters on board the controls had failed and the snag was “unfixable” for now. According to the report, the train would have to be taken to Delhi to fix the fault, and it could not be driven above 40 km per hour. The train had also reportedly run out of water.
In a statement later, the railway ministry attributed the disruption to a possible cattle run over.
“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 ops begin from 17 Feb. After removing obstacle, journey to Delhi resumed around 8.15 am,” the ministry said in its statement.
Those travelling in the train on Saturday said power went out in some coaches around 5 am, and the train was running at a sluggish pace before coming to a halt.
Some also complained of a foul smell and mild smoke.
The train staff also said there was a “mechanical fault in the braking system” that was jammed due to a deposit in the wheels.
Those travelling in Vande Bharat Express were put on two other trains to be sent bat back to Delhi.
According to officials, the commercial run of Vande Bharat Express on Sunday is on schedule as of now.
The “semi-high speed” train manufactured under the Make in India initiative has been built with a top speed of 180 km per hour, but the speed was restricted to 130 kmph on the section. It successfully attained a speed of 180 kmph during trial runs.
The train had touched the 130 kmph speeds during its inaugural run on Friday.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Railway Board Chairman Vinod Yadav travelled along with mediapersons during the maiden run covering a distance of 760 km from Delhi to Varanasi. Other senior railway officials were also on board.
“Railways is regularly making efforts to provide comfortable journeys on trains. Vande Bharat is part of that effort. Tendering process for 30 more such trains has started,” said Goyal.
He added that the PM had given his approval for 100 more such trains.
Goyal said more routes on which Vande Bharat Express would run had been identified. “The tracks are being modernised so that trains can run at semi high speed on these routes,” he said.
“One can see that despite the speed being high, the train is steady making the journey comfortable. All the trains abroad are like this,” said Goyal.
The rail minister said the time taken by Vande Bharat from Delhi to Varanasi would be eight hours. All trains at present take 12 to 15 hours to cover the same distance.
Goyal said efforts were also being made that trains on all routes of the golden quadrilateral run at 160 kmph.
The tickets are priced 40 per cent more than Shatabdi but less than Gatimaan
The rakes of this train are likely to be used in place of Shatabdi on inter-city routes in future by Railways. The train has been indigenously manufactured at Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, and it took around three years to build. As the train is engineless, it has a faster acceleration and deceleration unlike locohauled trains.