Just a day after launch, Train 18 breaks down
A day after it was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vande Bharat Express (which is popularly known as Train 18), broke down on Friday. The semi-high speed train was returning to Delhi from Varanasi when it hit a roadblock. The train was halted near Tundla, which is nearly 200 kms away from the national capital. Train 18 resumed its journey at 8:15 AM.
The breakdown obviously embarrassed the government which has been continuously singing praises about the train. Reports claimed Train 18 was hit by cattle. When one of the cattle came under the train's wheel, communication with the last coach broke down, affecting the train control management system. Engineers got their torches and other equipment out and started checking the fault.
According to Indian Express, the train made rattling sounds. The report claimed foul smell and smoke also emanated from the last four coaches. Engineers on spot claimed parking brake and holding brake jammed. The train, which can touch a speed of 180kmph, resumed its journey at speed of 10 kmph. When the problem persisted, pilots decided to run the train at 40 kmph.
The indigenous train was built by Integral Coach Factory, Chennai. This engineless train was built in 18 months and gave a major boost to the Centre's "Make In India" campaign. The train having 16 coaches was built at a cost of Rs. 97 crore. It is fully air-conditioned and is laced with world-class amenities. The government hopes it will replace the existing Shatabdi Express.
After several trials, Train 18 was flagged off on Friday. The government didn't decorate the locomotive and kept it simple in the wake of Pulwama terror attacks. The train's first commercial run is scheduled for Sunday and it is already overbooked. An official spokesperson of railways confirmed the breakdown won't affect the plans by saying, "Commercial operations will start from Sunday, February 17."