India's fastest indigenously manufactured train, Train 18, is all set to make its debut before the end of this year.
While earlier reports had indicated that Train 18 would debut in January 2019, it has been confirmed that Train 18 will commence on its maiden commercial journey on December 29.
It will be flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The tentative launch plan for Train 18
According to the tentative launch plan, the train will start from the New Delhi station at 6am on 29 December, and will reach Varanasi at around 2pm.
The return journey will commence on the same day at 2.30pm from Varanasi. Train 18 is expected to return to Delhi at 10.30pm.
The train will have two 52-seater executive coaches, and 14 78-seater trailer coaches.
India's first engine-less train
The engine-less Train 18 had been undergoing trials over the past two months, and recently breached the 180kmph mark, becoming India's fastest indigenously manufactured train.
Reportedly, Train 18 has a top speed of 200kmph, which can be achieved if tracks and signals work in tandem.
The train is expected to gradually phase out the Shatabdi express, that runs on over 20 routes currently.
Train 18 offers world-class amenities to passengers
The train is a fully air-conditioned and offers world-class amenities.
It has 16 coaches and is a high-tech energy efficient, self-propelled train that is expected to reduce travel times by 15%.
Features include Wi-Fi facility, CCTV cameras, GPS-based passenger information system, infotainment system, automatic doors, roller blinds, automatic temperature control, LED lighting, charging points at every seat, and touch-free bio-vacuum toilet among others.
Train 18 is a greener way to travel
Train 18 will not just offer comfort and convenience to travellers, but will also offer environmental benefits. It is 15%-20% more energy efficient than other Indian trains, and also leaves a lower carbon footprint.
Four more Train 18s are on their way
Train 18 was manufactured at a cost of Rs. 100cr per rake by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai in 18 months under the "Make in India" initiative.
The trial runs of the train left Railway Minister Piyush Goyal so impressed that he has asked the ICF to manufacture four more rakes in the current financial year.
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Rajdhani-replacement Train 20 will be here in two years
With Train 18 all set to make its debut, the Railways will soon turn its focus on another project - Train 20. While Train 18 will replace Shatabdis, the next generation aluminium-bodied sleeper class Train 20 will replace Rajdhani Express trains, starting 2020.