India has started commercial operations of its first semi high-speed train called ‘Train 18’.

The inaugural run of the train, rechristened as Vande Bharat Express, was flagged off by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the New Delhi Railway Station.

Capable of running at a maximum speed of 160km/h, the semi high-speed train will operate on the New Delhi-Kanpur-Allahabad-Varanasi route.

It will cover the full distance between New Delhi and Varanasi in eight hours and run five days a week.

“With our sincerity and hard work in the last four-and-half years, we have tried to improve railways.”

Equipped with 16 air-conditioned coaches, the Vande Bharat Express has a total seating capacity of 1,128 passengers.

All coaches feature comfortable seating, automatic doors, GPS based audio-visual passenger information system, dual mode lighting and onboard hotspot Wi-Fi services.

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Additionally, they have a pantry car to serve meals to the passengers.

The train also has a regenerative braking system, which can save 30% of electrical energy, and insulation protection to reduce heat and noise levels to provide additional passenger comfort.

The Vande Bharat Express has been developed at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), a railway production unit in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The unit was designed and built over a span of 18 months.

During the inauguration, Prime Minister Modi was quoted by the news agency PTI as saying: “I am grateful to designers and engineers behind the Vande Bharat Express, which will take its first trip from Delhi to Varanasi today.

“With our sincerity and hard work in the last four-and-half years, we have tried to improve railways.”