India's first locomotive-less train or Train 18 on Sunday crossed the 180 kmph speed limit during a test run, a top official said in Chennai. In the process, the Rs 100 crore indigenously designed train has become the country's fastest,
"Train 18 breached the 180 kmph speed limit in the Kota-Sawai Madhopur section. The major trials are now over with just some more remaining. Based on the reports fine tuning would be done if needed. As of now no major technical problem has cropped up," S. Mani, General Manager of Integral Coach Factory (ICF) that has manufactured the train, told news agency IANS.
"We expect Train 18 to commence its commercial run from January 2019. Normally the trials take three months. But now it is happening faster than expected," Mr Mani added.
If all things go well, Train 18 will replace the current Shatabdi Express - a day train.
Train 18 is capable of touching 200 kmph provided that the rest of Indian Railways' system such as tracks and signals permit, Mr Mani had said earlier.
Asked about rolling out a sleeper version of Train 18, he said: "We can roll out sleeper coaches as well. No major modifications to the train would be needed for that."
The ICF will roll out one more Train 18 this fiscal and four by the next fiscal.
On the export potential, he said, first the domestic demand will be met and then the overseas market would be look at.
"The overseas demand depends on the kind of rail tracks they have. Medium income countries can certainly buy this train," Mr Mani said.
With 16 coaches, the train will have the same passenger carrying capacity as that of the Shatabdi Express. It is about 15-20 per cent energy efficient and leaves less carbon footprint.
Officials said the train was conceived, designed and developed in about 18 months' time as against the industry norm of about four years.
It has an aerodynamically designed driver cabins at both ends for quicker turn-around at destinations.