In the biggest budget allocation for the Indian Railways, approximately 300 to 400 new Vande Bharat trains may be announced in the upcoming Union Budget, according to sources in the ministry. Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told The Times of India that the first Vande Bharat train with sleeper coaches will be rolled out in the first quarter of 2024. Speaking at a media event, the railway Minister added that the plan for the production of 475 Vande Bharat trains in the next three years is on track.
“The target of having 475 Vande Bharat trains…is on track. In the last budget, 400 trains were sanctioned and before that 75 had been sanctioned. We will be achieving the entire target in the coming three years,” said Ashwini Vaishnaw. A decision is yet to be taken on whether these trains will replace the existing Rajdhani and Duronto trains on routes like Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Howrah and other major routes.
Meanwhile, a senior official told PTI that the Indian Railways has plans to become a major exporter of Vande Bharat trains by 2025-26 to markets in Europe, South America and East Asia. The government is planning to fast-track the roll-out of semi-high-speed, next- generation Vande Bharat trains, and is likely to announce 300-400 new trains in the union budget proposals for FY24, railway ministry officials aware of the development said.
The government plans to gradually replace all existing high-speed trains, including the Rajdhanis and Shatabdis, with the Vande Bharat, which will take up the speed to over 180 kmph on all major routes from a maximum of 160 kmph at present along limited routes.
The trains will be tested for maximum speeds of up to 220 kmph. This would provide the ideal testing ground for markets in Europe, Latin America and East Asia that have a big interest in buying state-of-the-art trains at low prices, Vaishnaw said. The minister added that keeping in mind the requirement of these trains, the Railways production facilities are also being ramped up and new facilities are being prepared to produce these trains.
“We want to showcase the technology to the world by running at least 100 Vande Bharat trains for 10-12 lakh kms over a one-year period. This proves the credibility of the technology and help it compete in the global market,” the minister said.
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