Two soon-to-be launched Vande Bharat Express trains from Mumbai will undergo trials in the hilly ghat sections on the city's outskirts without deployment of additional locomotives before their inauguration, railway officials have said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to launch Vande Bharat Express trains on Mumbai-Solapur and Mumbai-Shirdi routes on February 10, they said.
To cut the travel time, railway authorities have decided to run these semi-high-speed trains on both routes without attaching bankers, the additional locomotives used for pushing trains from the rear in high gradient areas in ghats (mountain inclines or slopes), the officials said on January 31.
The Vande Bharat Express between Mumbai and Solapur is likely to run via the Bhor ghat (located between Karjat and Khandala on way to Pune) and is expected to cover a distance of around 400 km between the two places in 6.35 hours.
On the other hand, the Mumbai-Shirdi high-speed train is expected to run via the Thal ghat (in Kasara on Mumbai's outskirts) and cover a distance of around 340 km between them in 5.25 hours, they said.
At present, all trains passing through these ghats are hauled up by additional locomotives (called bankers) from the Mumbai side.
According to the officials, they expect to receive the trains from Chennai-based Integrated Coach Factory within the next one week and thereafter, the trials will be started immediately on both the ghat sections.
Bankers are used for pushing trains in ghat sections, besides avoiding incidents of train rollback in case of the parting of coaches. But the process of attaching and detaching bankers takes at least a few minutes, increasing travel time due to technical halts, an official explained.
To do away with bankers in ghat sections, both Vande Bharat Express trains will be fitted with parking brakes in which will stop the train from rolling down on gradient, the official said.
Having a gradient of 1:37 that means for every 37-metre run there is a rise of 1 metre. Both Bhor and Thal ghats are among the toughest railway ghat sections in the county, according to the officials.
The nearly 25-km-long Bhor ghat (also called Khandala ghat) is spread between Karjat and Khandala stations, while the 14-km-long Thal ghat (also known as Kasara ghat) is spread between Kasara and Igatpuri sections. Both the ghats have multiple tunnels and high via-ducts.
So far, eight Vande Bharat Express trains have been launched on various inter-state routes, including one between Mumbai and Gandhinagar.
Vande Bharat Express is an indigenously designed semi-high-speed self-propelled train set of 16 coaches. The train reaches a speed of 160 kmph in just 140 seconds and provides better riding comfort for passengers.
The train has a control management system for monitoring air-conditioning and every coach is fitted with passenger information and infotainment system.
Fitted with automatic plug doors with sliding footsteps and touch-free sliding doors inside coaches, the train is equipped with aeroplane-like bio-vacuum toilets
The train is also equipped with “kavach,” a train collision avoidance system.