The Vande Bharat Express – running between Mumbai Central and Gandhinagar (Gujarat) – rammed into cattle once again on Friday, suffering minor damage to its nose panel after hitting a cow. The incident was reported near Anand in Vadodara division of Western Railway (WR). The train was on its way from Gandhinagar to Mumbai when the incident occurred (around 3.45 pm), resulting in the train being detained for about 10 minutes.
“There was no damage to the train except for a minor dent to the nose cone cover of the front (driver) coach. The train is running smoothly and will be attended to at night at the Mumbai Central coach care center,” said a WR official.
This is the second such incident reported in two days. Earlier, the nose portion of the front coach of the semi-high-speed train was damaged after colliding with a herd of buffaloes between Vatva and Maninagar railway stations in Gujarat. The nose was replaced after Thursday's incident and the train departed from Mumbai Central on Friday morning with a new nose in place. However, it got damaged again due to the second incident.
After the incident on Thursday, the outgoing divisional railway manager (DRM) of WR's Mumbai Central division, GVL Satyakumar spent the night at the Mumbai Central coach care center while the damaged nose of the train was being replaced. Satyakumar had taken the change as DRM in November 2019. WR has trained around 100 personnel including officers to maintain the state-of-the-art train.
Collision with cattle on the tracks unavoidable
According to a WR official, collision with cattle on the tracks is unavoidable in the current situation and this has been kept in mind while designing the semi-high-speed Vande Bharat train. “To prevent cattle from being run over, work of fencing of the track between Mumbai-Delhi and Mumbai-Ahmedabad is in full swing and will be completed by March 2024,” the official said.
Orders for more nose panels
The 'nose' of the train is made of FRP (fibre-reinforced plastic) and an order for around a dozen nose panels has already been placed, with a few of these excepted to be delivered by Sunday. “The front dome was designed in such a way that it will crack or break, consuming the impact and thus, saving the train from derailment and the passengers from injury. If there is an accident, nothing will happen to the train; only the nose portion will be damaged which is fully replaceable,” the official said.
These types of trains need a fully fenced track. Fortunately, the train did not derail. Perhaps the speed must have been low. This is the problem with EMU (electrical multiple units) type engine-less trains that have no loco at the head and therefore it has to be ensured there is no obstruction while running
- Subodh Jain, former railway board member
The nose with even the strongest material and backing structural frame would get damaged in cattle run-over cases at high speed unless you employ some super-strong design which would be prohibitively expensive. The use of a cattle guard like in locomotives would spoil the USP of the aerodynamic profile of the train and its inherent aesthetics. If we have to run these trains at their speed potential, fencing of the track is necessary
- Sudhanshu Mani, former general manager, Integral Coach Factory (ICF)