Railways await PMO nod for Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express

The Indian Railways is hopeful of getting the approval of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to run another Vande Bharat Express, this one between New Delhi and Katra in Jammu and Kashmir, senior railway officials said on Thursday.

An official told IANS on the condition of anonymity: “The proposal to run a second Vande Bharat Express between New Delhi and Katra is with the PMO. We are hopeful of getting a nod in the coming week.”

The official said the plan to run the second Vande Bharat Express, earlier known as Train 18, between Delhi and Katra was sent for clearance a few weeks ago.

The Railway Board decided to run the indigenously built high speed train between Delhi and Katra, the base for the Vaishno Devi shrine, after the success of the train now plying between New Delhi and Varanasi which has completed over 1.5 lakh running km in five months.

The train, capable of attaining a speed of 200 kmph, will cut down the travelling time between Delhi and Katra by over five hours.

Currently, a Superfast train takes about 12 hours to reach Katra from Delhi, covering a distance of about 655 km. The Vande Bharat Express will consume only eight hours.

The official said the route was identified by the Railway Board in order to capitalize on the high traffic volume, which sees a lot of footfall due to the Vaishno Devi temple.

The Railway Board proposes to run the train three days — Monday, Thursday and Saturday. But it can be extended to five days a week depending on the demand.

The Vande Bharat Express will leave from Delhi at 6 a.m. and reach Katra at 2 p.m. The same day, it will depart from Katra at 3 p.m. and reach the national capital at 11 p.m.

The official pointed out that the train would be run at a maximum speed of 130 kmph on the Delhi-Katra route with three stops: Ambala, Ludhiana and Jammu Tawi before reaching Katra.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged off the first Vande Bharat Express on February 15 this year.

The Integral Coach Factory, which manufactured Train 18, has made changes in the existing design of the train.

“To avoid damage due to stray cattle, the train has been equipped with a sturdy aluminium-clad nose cover. And to guard the window shields against stone pelting, a special film on windows has been provided,” the official said.

More space has been provided to store meals for passengers.

Besides the changes in the exterior and interior designs, the ICF has added a slew of modern features like adjustable seats, improved wash basins, automatic doors, WiFi and infotainment system among others.



Karnataka meets Railways terms for Bengaluru suburban service

Karnataka has agreed to meet the terms of Indian Railways for building the 161 km Bengaluru suburban project at Rs 23,000 crore, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said here on Friday.

“The project envisages building 82 stations with 12 inter-changes for the metro service in six years, and provides connectivity to the international airport as required for the special purpose vehicle (SPV),” Goyal told reporters after a meeting with Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy to resolve issue.

The Ministry of Railways had, however, agreed to grant its land for the project at a nominal lease of Rs 1 per acre, reducing the cost by 30 per cent and saving Rs 6,700 crore.

The 119 conditions of the state government were acting as road blocks for commencing the suburban rail project in India’s tech hub, bedevilled by grid locks, land shortage and other infrastructure woes.

“The state cabinet will meet on February 25 to approve our 19 conditions by the state government through a special resolution,” said Goyal.

“The state government has also agreed for the right of FSI ‘5’ on railway land to the railways for financing the project,” said Goyal.

The air-conditioned EMU (Electrical Multiple Unit) rake is planned for suburban corridor to facilitate safe and comfortable journey to the denizens.

“The suburban rail service is much cheaper than other modes of transport like metro and bus, besides easing traffic congestion plaguing the city,” Goyal added



Rs 64,587 cr budgetary support for railways in 2019-20; Goyal

Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said the government has allocated Rs 64,587 crore for railways in the Interim Budget for 2019-20.

Presenting the Interim Budget in Parliament, Goyal said: “Indian Railways has experienced its safest year in history. We are introducing container cargo movement to the North East.

“All unmanned level crossings on broad gauge network have been completely eliminated,” he said.

Speaking about the manufacture of engineless Train 18, Goyal said: “Vande Bharat Express will give Indian passengers world class facility, with speed, safety and service. This major leap developed by our engineers will give an impetus to Make in India programme and create jobs.”

He said: “Capital support from Budget for railways is proposed at Rs 64,587 crore for railways in 2019-20.

“In fact, railways’ overall capital expenditure programme is historic at Rs 1,58,658 crore.”

Goyal also said that the operating ratio of railways will come down to 95 per cent in 2019-20 from 96.2 per cent in 2018-19.

Rs 64,587 cr budgetary support for railways in 2019-20: Goyal