CHENNAI: As production of Vande Bharat trains (Train 18) is underway, the Southern Railway (SR) has decided to upgrade its coach depots in Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruchy, and Thiruvananthapuram to maintain rakes of semi-high-speed trains.
The decision came after the Railway Board (RB) last week directed the 16 zonal railways to keep the coach depots ready to maintain the Vande Bharat rakes. Premium trains of Shatabdi, Tejas, and Jan Shatabdi expresses that originate from the four rakes-holding stations are expected to get replaced with Vande Bharat rakes.
Documents showed that the railways is planning to launch 102 chair-car Vande Bharat trains from August next year. Of these, 13 rakes are tentatively earmarked for maintenance at Chennai (six), Coimbatore (three), Tiruchy (two), and Thiruvananthapuram (two). A source said 10-12 Vande Bharat trains are likely to run from TN by August next year. Routes of these trains, however, remain unknown, an official said.
Now, two rakes of Vande Bharat trains, manufactured by Integral Coach Factory (ICF), are being operated on New Delhi-Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra and New Delhi-Varanasi sections. The rakes are maintained at Shakurbasti coach depot in New Delhi.
The chair-car rakes of Vande Bharat trains are being made at ICF, Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala, and Modern Coach Factory in Raebareli, said officials. Also, Vande Bharat trains from South Western Railway and South Central Railway may also be operated to a few destinations in Tamil Nadu.