Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the new Vande Bharat train and traveled in it for about half an hour from Gandhinagar to Kalupur in Gujarat.
He had inaugurated the Vande Bharat when it was first launched in Delhi in 2019 but had not traveled in it.
Questions may be asked as to why the train has been inaugurated for the second time in three years.
This is the Vande Bharat 2.0, which comes with several upgrades over the former ones.
It is the third in the Vande Bharat series after the two existing trains running from Delhi to Varanasi and Katra.
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw likened the train to smartphones which receive upgrades and a new “version” with each series production, even though the name stays the same.
The new train is also costlier at Rs 115 crore — Rs 15 crore more than the last version.
One of the upgrades comes in terms of speed.
It reaches a top speed of 160 km per hour in 129 seconds, around 16 seconds faster than its predecessors.
The speed is achieved due to lighter weight, it weighs around 392 tonnes- 38 tonnes lighter than the last one, and needs to run almost a km less to attain its top speed.
The new train comes with the automatic anti-collision system Kavach, which the previous trains lacked.
The coaches have disaster lights and their battery backup is for three hours, increased from the last one’s one-hour.
The exterior has eight flatform-side cameras, up from four.
The new train set is higher, making it safe from floods up to 650 mm, up from 400 mm.
All the seats are recliner seats as opposed to the previous versions which had fixed backseats in lower class.
Executive Coaches have the added feature of 180-degree rotating seats.
The internal air is filtered through a photo catalytic ultraviolet air purification system with UV lamp which deactivates 99 per cent of germs, the Railways claims.
This is again something the earlier train sets did not have.
The internal network supports data at 1 gigabyte per second, a huge jump from the earlier 100 megabytes per second, which translates to better quality streaming.
There’s also a wifi-enabled onboard infotainment system and the LCD display in each coach is now 32 inches, up from the 24-inch screen.
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation will serve “health conscious and low calorie” food options made from ragi, bhagar, cereals, oats, muesli, etc.
Dishes prepared from sabudana, bhagar and fruits will aso be on the menu.
For the first time malt beverages for children are being introduced as a service in the premium train.
The usual chocolate bar will be replaced with “Peanut Chikki”.
India has embarked on a mission to roll out 400 Vande Bharats.
By August 2023 72 more such trains will be introduced, taking the total to 75.
The intention is to have this third trainset carry on with its commercial run while the Railway production units will keep producing more every month to reach the target.
There are also plans to introduce Vande Bharat with sleeper berths for overnight journeys.