Indian Railways have decided not to manufacture any more Vande Bharat Express rakes in the current financial year. This was said by Railway Board Chairman Vinod Yadav on Monday.
“The energy consumption of the train was much more than the world standards. We realized that when we do mass production, we cannot have such high energy consumption. So we decided to review the specifications….that they become energy efficient. We will not be able to make any more Vande Bharat Express in 2019-20, but will produce 15 between 2020 and 2021, and 25 in 2021-2022," he said
He, however, said the issues with the train have been addressed and 40 more such trains will be produced till March 2022.
Earlier this year, the production of this self-propelled engine-less train sets was stopped over allegations of favouritism and lack of transparency. In July, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal met representatives of manufacturers and promised a transparent level-playing field to all of them.
On February 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched New Delhi-Varanasi Vande Bharat Express, popularly known as Train 18. It is an indigenous electric multiple unit (EMU) manufactured by the Chennai-based Integrated Coach Factory (ICF). The semi-high speed train that can run up to a maximum speed of 160 km/hour has electrically operated, automatic sliding doors similar to those in metro coaches. Built at a cost of ₹100 crore, each train has 16 compartments, with two first class coaches.
The Chairman of the Railway board also said that Indian railways will put in place a regulator as and when private operators take over to run trains. The regulator will look into various issues such as fares, the routes such trains can run on, along with the crucial aspect of safety, Railway Board Chairman Vinod Yadav said on Monday.
“We are studying all the issues related to pricing, with respect to private train operators. Private train operators will not come immediately but we will have to prepare for it from now. Whenever a private players comes in, a regulator will also come," Yadav said, adding that no decision on this regard will be taken without consulting all stakeholders.
This comes at the backdrop of the Indian railways allowing its tourism and catering subsidiary IRCTC to run Tejas trains, which is touted to be a train that will be run by an entity other than the national transporter. Handing over these two trains to IRCTC is expected to help the national transporter consider the option of roping in private players to run trains, which will cater to the larger idea of providing world-class service to passengers.
The train service has gained traction amongst rail travellers and is hailed as a game changer akin to what a Rajdhani or Shatabdi did for the people’s mover. IRCTC will run Tejas trains on two routes—Delhi-Lucknow and, Ahmedabad-Mumbai Central, with the latter expected to begin operations around December.