Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): India's fastest train, the Vande Bharat Express, has been running at an average speed of around 83 kmph over the last two years due to poor track conditions while having a permissible top speed of 130 kmph for commercial services, an RTI reply has revealed.
During this period, a train on one route hit an average speed of 95 kmph.
The train, which is built to run at a maximum speed of 180 kmph, has a permissible top speed of 130 kmph for commercial services, officials said.
The RTI, filed by Madhya Pradesh-based Chandra Shekhar Gaur, said the average speed of the semi high-speed train was 84.48 kmph in 2021-22 and 81.38 kmph in 2022-23.
The Vande Bharat Express is an electric multiple-unit train operated by the Indian Railways. It was designed by the Research Designs and Standards Organisation and manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai.
The officials asserted that the speed of such trains depend on the track conditions. While the Mumbai CSMT-Sainagar Shirdi Vande Bharat Express has the lowest average speed of around 64 kmph, the fastest average is maintained by the country's first Vande Bharat Express train -- the New Delhi-Varanasi Vande Bharat Express -- that was launched in 2019 and runs at an average speed of 95 kmph.
The Rani Kamalapati (Habibganj)-Hazrat Nizamuddin Vande Bharat Express comes a close second, maintaining an average speed of 94 kmph.
Officials said the average speed of Vande Bharat trains is better than Rajdhani and Shatabdi Express trains due to its faster acceleration/deceleration.
"One has to understand that no mode of transport can maintain its maximum speed throughout its journey. The condition of the surface it is running on determines its speed. The average speed of each Vande Bharat train in every section is faster than the fastest train of that section. For example, it is running with maximum permissible speed of 160 kmph between Agra Cantt-Tughlakabad," a Railway official said.
The manufacture of the first version of Vande Bharat train -- called "Train-2018" -- was completed in October 2018. During the test runs, the train achieved an operational speed of 180 kmph.
The railways has ambitious plans for these trains -- 14 of which are currently operational on prime routes, cutting the average travel time by a few hours on several of them. While the current iteration of the trains are only chair cars, the national transporter plans to introduce sleeper versions soon.
Officials said while these trains are built to run at high speed, the rail network is also being upgraded so that Vande Bharat-like trains can attain higher speeds in the future.
The advanced version of Vande Bharat trains will be able to attain a maximum speed of 200 kmph.
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