The Indian Railways has begun work on remodelling Vande Bharat trains so as to enable operations along standard gauge tracks. This would render the offerings fit across export markets, specially in Europe and Latin Amercian countries. Design of Vande Bharat rolling stock for metro rail (Vande Metro) is also underway and a prototype is likely soon, officials aware of discussions told businessline.

Typically, India operates in a broad gauge line, where the maximum train speed can go up to 160 km per hr (for Vande Bharats). A broad gauge or wide gauge track is generally of 1676 mm width (the distance between two gauges is 5 ft 6 inches).

Against this, a standard gauge is of 1435 mm (4 ft 8.5 inches) which is mostly the global standard. In India, the standard gauge is used for most urban rail transit systems like Monorail, Metro, and Tram. The only standard gauge line in India till 2010 was the Kolkata tram system.

“Re-design of Vande Bharat trains to enable operations on a standard gauge track is underway. Some modification of design and further customisations are required. The Railway engineers are working on it internally. Apart from domestic demand, this will enable us to tap overseas markets too,” the official said.

According to the official, an ecosystem of exports have been created through Vande Bharats with some specifications like minimal jolts for passengers, lower noise levels, among others. In comparison to the broad gauge coaches which are of 3600 mm, the standard gauge rolling stock are of 3200 mm width.

“Once the designs are approved there will be a test run of the prototype(s),” the official said.

Test track under-construction

A test track in the Jodhpur division in Rajasthan is also under-construction, with the expected completion time being 2024.

Indian Railways is constructing the 59 km long dedicated standard gauge track between Gudha and Thathana Mithri to conduct trails for these rolling stock which can attain speed of up to 220 km per hr.

“Firstly, there are plans to have Vande Metro rakes. And then we will have standard gauge rolling stock which can be exported maybe in another year or two. So we need to test the rolling stock and be sure of the products specially when we compete in international markets,” the official said.

So far, there have been “suo motu” queries that have come in from some Latin American nations. The request was to “customise” the design for standard gauge tracks as they fit some basic specifications, those aware of the discussions said.

“First requirement would be to cater to the domestic demand (within India) and then we will target export markets,” he said adding that designs for Vande Metro are also underway and would be presented “soon” - likely by fiscal-end - for approval.