India will start trial runs for Vande Bharat metros from July, officials aware of discussions told businessline.  To be run on broad-gauge lines, these metro train-sets will have up to 16 coaches. 

Typically, India operates most of its Railway network on broad gauge lines, where the maximum train speeds can go up to 160 km per hr (for Vande Bharats). 

A broad gauge or wide gauge track is generally of 1,676 mm width (the distance between two gauges is 5 ft 6 inches).

The Rail Coach Factory (RCF) at Kapurthala in Punjab is developing the first prototype of Vande Metro coach, targeting primarily intercity travel, and covering distances between 100-250 kms. 

In all 124 cities are to be connected through Vande Metros. Some of the initially identified routes include Tirupathi-Chennai; Lucknow-Kanpur, Agra-Mathura, among others. 

These train-sets will leverage the existing broad gauge line network on which local and sub-urban trains currently operate. “We are yet to decide on the route where trial runs will take place. But by July, the first prototypes should be tested, following which production will start,” an official said. 

On an average, each Vande Metro coach will have the capacity to carry 280 passengers — 100 seating capacity and 180 standing capacity. The 3x3 bench-type seating arrangement maximises passenger capacity. Linear seating can also be looked into to maximise capacities. 

Vande Metros operate independent of existing RRTSs and other operating Metro networks. 

Vande Bharat sleepers 

Trial run for Vande Bharat sleeper trains will start in early-May. Roll-out is expected later this year. 

Prototypes for these trains are being prepared by BEML. These semi high-speed trains are targeted for overnight travel and distances covering 800-1,500 km or more. These trains are expected to have 12 - 16 coach configurations. 

Also on cards is making operational 50 Amrit Bharat trains, using the push-pull locos, by FY25-end. These trains will have one engine each both in the front and back of the rolling stock. Railways can produce 1,000 of these push-pull locos every year at full capacity. 

The next iteration of Amrit Bharat trains will have cone shaped ‘nose’  (similar to TGVs) and will appear similar to trains in Europe.