It was on February 15 in 2019 that India got its first Vande Bharat as the Railways launched the train on the New Delhi-Kanpur-Prayagraj-Varanasi route.
Since its launch, the train has brought in several changes in the way people travel between the two cities as well as across the country. As of date, there are 10 pairs of Vande Bharat trains running across the country and almost all of these can be called popular.
The Vande Bharat trains are an excellent example of the ‘Make in India’ success story and a significant move towards strengthening the campaign. The first indigenous semi high speed train was flagged off between the national capital and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency on February 15, 2019.
One of the main aims of these trains was to provide a totally new travel experience to the passengers and to a large extent, they have been successful.
The Vande Bharat train between Delhi and Varanasi has allowed passengers to reach the city by afternoon while most trains offer an overnight journey. The Vande Bharat starts from Delhi at 6am and reaches Varanasi at 2pm. So for all those who don’t want to travel overnight or spend all day in a train, which was a compulsion so far, this is the best alternative.
Not just Varanasi, the train has also helped those going towards Kanpur or Prayagraj — the other two stops. It takes around four hours to reach Kanpur while one can reach Prayagraj in six hours. So, anyone who wants to visit these two cities for a few hours, mostly for work, can come back to Delhi from the same train by late evening.
The train has been one of the most popular Vande Bharats. The Varanasi-New Delhi train had an occupancy of about 126 per cent this financial year up to February 8, while New Delhi-Varanasi was running with an occupancy of about 122 per cent for the same period. More than 100 per cent occupancy includes the passengers in the waiting list.
While there were several doubts over the popularity of Vande Bharats due to higher fare, the occupancy says otherwise. The Vande Bharat takes eight hours and charges Rs 1,670 compared to the other fastest train after it which is Shiv Ganga Express that takes a little over 10 hours and charges Rs 1,605 for second AC.
More Vande Bharats being added every month
There are 10 pairs of Vande Bharat trains running across India as of date. According to Railways Ministry data, currently these trains cover 108 districts across 17 states.
While the first two pairs of Vande Bharats were launched in 2019, the third one was launched in September 2022, running between Gandhinagar and Mumbai. Since then, there has been no looking back. After September 2022, every month one pair of these trains was launched. Further, in December 2022 and February 2023, two pairs of these trains were launched.
The pair of trains are running between: New Delhi-Amb Andaura; Chennai-Mysore; Bilaspur-Nagpur; Mumbai-Gandhinagar; Varanasi-New Delhi; Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra-New Delhi; Howrah-New Jalpaiguri; Visakhapatnam-Secunderabad; Mumbai-Sainagar Shirdi; and Mumbai-Solapur.
Earlier this month, Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had said that currently, one Vande Bharat train per week was being produced. In the upcoming financial year, the government has planned to expand the production to three new facilities — Sonipat in Haryana, Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh and Latur in Maharashtra. With four factories simultaneously producing Vande Bharat trains, the ministry has assured that they will be able to produce two or three new Vande Bharat trains every week.
Read all the Latest India News here