The Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai is working on a prototype model of the newly-launched Vande Bharat (VB) train sets, which have become a hit among the commuters. These trains will be ready by the end of this financial year, said B.G. Mallya, General Manager, ICF.
Addressing a press meet after a media tour of the manufacturing of the VB Express train at the ICF on Friday, he said the Railway Ministry has sanctioned a total of 200 sleeper coaches of the VB Express and has given orders for the manufacturing of 80 train sets to the ICF. The sleeper coaches of the VB Express would have total of 16 air-conditioned coaches comprising one first-class, four second-class and 11 three-tier coaches. The sleeper coaches of the VB Express will have a total carrying capacity of 830 persons.
The ICF, which is at present the only factory manufacturing VB train sets in the country, rolled out the 21st train this week. The semi high-speed train, which has no locomotives unlike the conventional trains, operates through all propulsion or distributed car rolling stock, for hauling the train coaches, thereby managing a faster turnaround of operations of the trains in the return direction, higher acceleration and speedier braking, and better efficiency.
Mr. Mallya said the VB train has been tested to 180 kilometres per hour (kmph) and could be operated at a maximum speed of 160 kmph. The VB Express on the Agra-Delhi section was operated at the maximum speed.
Mr. Mallya said the ICF would be able to manufacture a total of 77 VB Express train sets in this financial year as against a total order of 115 VB train sets. Regarding the Railway Ministry announcing that it would have 75 VB trains by August this year, Mr. Mallya said despite the VB coach manufacturing having attained indigenisation of 85% to 90%, the delay caused in the availability of axle and forge wheels and also the shortage of computer chips used to power the electronics, has put stress on the manufacturing side. The axle and forge wheel supplier being based out of Ukraine, the war in that country resulted in the slowdown, he added.
The ICF is also designing a Vande Bharat suburban, a replacement of the train operated between Jolarpettai and Arakkonam. The 15-coach suburban train would be a 12-feet wide coach and would have a carrying capacity of 6,000 persons.
The ICF is also designing a prototype for the VB Metro, which has been announced for the Mumbai suburban. The VB Metro is a replacement of the mainline electrical multiple coach (EMU) which would have eight coaches and would have a carrying capacity of 300 persons per coach. One train set of the VB Metro is also to be manufactured by the ICF this financial year.