Day before maiden run, snag halts Vande Bharat twice
A day after being flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India’s first semi-high speed train, the Vande Bharat Express, ran into trouble early Saturday during its return to Delhi from Varanasi.
The train, which does not have a locomotive, reached Delhi around 1pm, hours behind its schedule. Officials said the delay was caused by ‘skidding wheels’, but those on board the train claimed the problem related to malfunctioning of brakes.
The train is set to begin its first commercial run Sunday with all tickets sold out.
In a detailed statement issued this evening, the Railways said the train had to be stopped at Chamraula station of National Capital Region, about 18 km after crossing Tundla station. “There was an issue of communication between the last basic unit of four coaches and the rest of the train probably due to some external hit. Thereafter, safety features in the train applied brakes. The train was checked for faults and moved to Delhi,” it said.
Train 18, renamed as Vande Bharat Express, had left Varanasi Junction for Delhi at 10:30 pm Friday, nearly 45 minutes after reaching the holy city on its inaugural journey. The first breakdown happened about 15 kilometres from Tundla junction in UP. According to sources, including several journalists on board the train, it was stuck near Tundla for over an hour. They said the train’s end coaches had started making a rattling sound before it came to a halt.
“There was some smell in the last four coaches which had no power. Also, smoke was noticed. Loco pilots decreased the speed for some time. I heard the officials talking about brake malfunction,” a source on the train said.
Around 8:15 am, the engineers fixed the problem and the train started moving at 10 kmph which was increased to 40 kmph after some time. Then the reporters and officials on board were transferred to another train bound for Delhi. After necessary repairs, it started the last leg of the journey towards Delhi at a speed of over 100 kmph, officials here said.
However, the Railways said the indigenously built train has been “thoroughly checked” and is “ready” for its first commercial run, scheduled on Sunday.