Day after break down, Train 18 begins first commercial run; ‘tickets sold out’ informs Goyal

New Delhi: The Vande Bharat Express – India’s fastest train – began its first commercial run on Sunday, just a day after it broke down on its way back to Delhi from Varanasi.

“Vande Bharat Express left Delhi for Varanasi today morning on its first commercial run. Tickets sold out for the next two weeks already. Get yours today!” tweeted Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.

A press release issued on Saturday night, by the railways said that during the journey back from Varanasi it was stopped at Chamraula station of National Capital Region(NCR), about 18 kms after crossing Tundla station. “There was an issue of communication between the last basic unit of 4 coaches and the rest of the train probably due to some external hit. Thereafter, safety features in the train applied brakes. The train was checked for faults and moved to Delhi,” it said.

Train 18 or Vande Bharat Express, had left Varanasi Junction for Delhi at 10:30 pm Friday, about 45 minutes after reaching Varanasi on its inaugural journey. After this, the first breakdown occurred around 15 km from Tundla junction in Uttar Pradesh on early Saturday morning.

“It was a case of skidding wheels after the train ran over cattle,” Northern Railway CPRO Deepak Kumar had said in the morning.

According to sources, the train was stuck near Tundla for over an hour. They said before the train came to a halt, its end coaches started making a rattling sound.

“There was some smell in the last four coaches which had no power. Also some smoke was noticed. Loco pilots decreased the speed for some time. I heard the officials talking about brake malfunction,” a source on the train said.

On Sunday morning Congress President Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “Modi ji, I think Make in India needs a serious rethink. Most people feel it has failed. I assure you we in the Congress are thinking very deeply about how it will be done.”

To this, Goyal tweeted in a quick response, “Such a shame that you choose to attack the hard work and ingenuity of Indian engineers, technicians and labourers. It is THIS mindset which needs a reset. ‘Make In India’ is a success and a part of crores of Indian lives. Your family had 6 decades to think, wasn’t that enough?”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had flagged off the train on Friday, and in its first trip, the train ran from New Delhi to Varanasi in just eight hours — as compared to the usual time of 12-13 hours it takes for the Shatabdi Express to cover the same distance. Its speed was capped at 130 kmph in view of the condition of the tracks, despite topping 180 kmph in trial runs.

(With inputs from PTI)