Indian Railways is set to introduce a new sleeper variant of the popular Vande Bharat Express, expanding its premium train offerings. This project comes after the successful rollout of the AC chair car Vande Bharat Express which promises to enhance the comfort and speed of overnight travel for passengers.
Currently, the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai is working on creating a prototype sleeper Vande Bharat train which is proposed to be rolled out in around 24 months. In addition to this, a significant initiative is underway to manufacture 200 Vande Bharat sleeper train sets.
A competitive bidding process determined the manufacturers for these sleeper trains. The consortium of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) and Russia’s TMH emerged as the lowest bidder and secured the contract to manufacture 120 Vande Bharat sleeper trains at the railway’s coach factory in Latur. Meanwhile, the consortium of Titagarh Wagons and BHEL won the contract to manufacture the remaining 80 train sets.
In an exclusive interview on TOI Business Bytes, Alok Kumar Misra, the Director of Kinet SPV and GM (Mechanical) at RVNL, provided valuable insights into the Vande Bharat sleeper train project. Kinet SPV, a Special Purpose Vehicle formed between RVNL and TMH, is spearheading the project’s execution.
The video interview highlights the Vande Bharat sleeper trains’ superiority over Rajdhani Express trains in terms of features, average speed, and maintenance. The ambitious Rs 35,000 crore project involves manufacturing 120 Vande Bharat sleeper variant train sets and ensuring their maintenance for a duration of 35 years. The RVNL-TMH consortium secured the contract by quoting a price of Rs 120 crore per train set.
According to Misra, the entire project is set begin by the end of August and are looking to release these trains within the next two years. This however is a tentative timeline and as the project continues, new dates are likely to be announced.
Misra also shared details on the anticipated timeline for the first prototype of the Vande Bharat sleeper train and explained RVNL’s strategic decision to enter the coach manufacturing domain. Additionally, he emphasized the expertise that Russia’s TMH and RVNL bring to the table.
The introduction of sleeper Vande Bharat trains aims to offer passengers faster and more comfortable overnight travel options. There are expectations that these new sleeper trains might eventually replace Rajdhani Express trains on the railway network in the long run. In addition to the 200 sleeper Vande Bharat trains, Indian Railways is also finalizing plans for 100 aluminium Vande Bharat train sets, marking a pioneering step for the railways.
With the ambitious project set to transform overnight travel experiences for passengers and potentially revolutionize the railway network, the Vande Bharat sleeper trains hold the promise of a brighter future for Indian Railways.