MUMBAI: 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 next month, Railway officials said on Tuesday.
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 travel time, Railway authorities have decided to run these semi high-speed trains on both the routes without attaching bankers, the additional locomotives used for pushing trains from the rear in high gradient areas in ghats (mountain inclines or slopes), said the officials.
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 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 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.
In ghat sections bankers are used for pushing trains besides avoiding incidents of train roll back in case of 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.
The official said to do away with bankers in ghat sections, both Vande Bharat Express trains will be fitted with parking brakes, which will stop the train from rolling down on gradient, in Mumbai.
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.
About 25km long Bhor ghat (also called Khandala ghat) is spread between Karjat and Khandala stations, while the 14km 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 160 kmph speed in just 140 seconds and 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.
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