The Modi Years – How Bharatiya Railway Has Improved Under NDA Government (Part 2)

Bharatiya Railway is the backbone of public transportation of the country and carries millions of passengers every day. The Railway, apart from being directly providing employment to 1.3 million people, also provides mode of livelihood indirectly to further millions. The fourth largest railway network of the world, is widespread throughout the country and actively carries the development of Bharatiya Economy on its shoulders. Primary function of the railway is transportation and displacement of people and freight throughout the large geographical stretch of the country.

In the quest for development of the country into a major global power, enhancement of railway sector is integral and is of paramount significance, considering its role in the economy and socio-cultural life. The world in the last one and a half century has come a long way from the first steam engine trains to sophisticated electric ones. Many countries now runs on the modern high speed bullet train network of its own.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagging off Vande Bharat Express – PTI/Indian Express.

The network of transportation of a country is often seen as a reflection of its economic prowess and engineering strength. Hence, the question of what has this government done to ensure enhancement by bringing in new trains and improving tourism through railways, carries good weight.

Tourism

Bharat is a rich and vibrant country in terms of heritage, culture, and history and hence, it’s no brainer that its tourism sector is one of the best in the world, despite authorities’ lackadaisical approach towards it. Each state has a completely different culture to experience and immerse, with common ground of deep rooted socio-cultural and philosophical knowledge.

The best means of experiencing the diverse culture and indulging into their average social activities, is to travel through train. The people you meet, the environment you see and the journey you make, makes a completely unique experience by travelling through train. Bharatiya railway is central to Bharatiya tourism, be it local trains or special tourist trains.

This government too has done a decent job in ensuring the progress in tourism through Bharatiya Railway. Apart from improvements in interactions and ease in finding out railway operations and booking up tickets, the government has done tremendous work on ensuring the better cleanliness and good comfort for the passenger while constantly making up gradations on already available resources.

Makeover and Upgradations

Buddhist Circuit Train

Railways in December 2018 unveiled the new look of the Buddhist Circuit Tourist Train, a deluxe train with mini library, kitchen with state-of-the-art appliances and stylish bathrooms. Buddhist Circuit Train is the only luxury train for the tourism of important and holy Buddhist sites. The train covers all significant places associated with the life of the Buddha and important centres of Buddhist significance, from Varanasi, Kaushambi to Vaishali, Nalanda and Gaya and others.

This government brought in huge upgradations to the train. Manufactured in Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, the new deluxe train comprises of 12 state-of-the-art LHB coaches with 4 first AC coaches, 2 second AC coaches, 1 kitchen car, 2 Dining Cars, 1 staff car and 2 power cars.

The first AC coaches, besides comfortable spacious cabins and coupes, have been fitted with in-room amenities like individual lockers inside fixed ladders for tourists. The other coach amenities include bathrooms on either sides for showers with geysers, urinals in each lavatory.

The railways has done away with the side berths in these coaches which have been replaced with single-seater sofa for panoramic view during journey. A mini library and foot massager with sofa has also been provided. Besides passenger coaches, the new train boasts of a full-fledged LHB kitchen car for the first time.

The entire train is fitted with CCTV camera for better surveillance and Very Early Smoke Detection Alarm System for the first time for safety and security of the tourists. Overall, the train has unique vinyl wrap promoting Incredible Bharat by depicting all the World Heritage Sites in Bharat, other important sites, wildlife, Bharatiya dance forms, yoga postures and Bharatiya vegetation.

Ramayana Express

On 14th of November 2018, Bharatiya Railway launched a pilgrimage circuit train which travels through every significant site associated with Bhagwan Rama’s journey in the Ramayana called Shri Ramayana Express. Shri Ramayana Yatra-Sri Lanka, has two travel components – one each in both countries, Bharat and Sri Lanka.

The Shri Ramayana Express train, after leaving from Delhi’s Safdarjung railway station, makes its first stop in Ayodhya. After Ayodhya, the train halts at Hanuman Garhi Ramkot and Kanak Bhawan temple. Following this, the train journey covers other crucial destinations of Ramayana circuit such as Nandigram, Sitamarhi, Varanasi, Janakpur, Shringverpur, Nasik, Prayag, Chitrakoot, Hampi and Rameshwaram. The train consists of 15 sleeper class coaches of ICF design.

Vistadome Tourist Coach

Vistadome Tourist Coach with glass walls launched at Visakhapatnam to run between Visakhapatnam and Araku Valley, is another tourist circuit train commissioned under this government. The Vistadome is a state of the art train and its coach has features like glass roof, LED lights, rotable seats, GPS based info system etc., will offer tourists to enjoy scenic beauty not only at destination but also along the journey.

Through these various means, the government has ensured a prudent enhancement and improvement in the tourism sector through railway. Minor impactful progress coupled with massive infrastructure development has helped Bharatiya Railway in improving not only performance but also standards of railway.

New Trains Started

Bringing in modern and better class coaches to the system is one fronton which this government has performed exceedingly and laudably. Scores of new train services, most of them facilitated with world class facilities and beautiful exterior-interior designs, were dedicated to the nation by this government during its five years tenure.  

Humsafar Express

Humsafar Express, a fully AC III tier train was launched in 2016 and is loaded with many facilities. The train was launched to provide ‘luxurious’ and world class feel to common people. The train, much like all other new launched trains, espouses a best-in-class basic facilities. The interiors of the coaches have anti-graffiti vinyl coating, reading light for each seat, CCTV, GPS, LED display screen, mobile and laptop charging points, braille display for the visually impaired, smoke-detection system, baby nappy changing pads, tea and coffee vending machines, refrigerator to store foods brought from home and oven to heat the food. 

Tejas Express

Manufactured by Chennai based Integrated Coach Factory (ICF), Tejas Express, is a modern world class feature-filled train espousing improved experience of travelling. Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, Tejas is a high-tech express. The train has separate LCD screen for each passenger, automatic doors, executive class and chair cars, fire and smoke detection system, magazines and snack tables, tea and coffee vending machines, water level indicators in bio-vacuum toilets, sensorized taps, hand dryers, braille displays, digital destination boards and improved aesthetics. 

Uday Express

Utkrisht Double Decker Air-Conditioned Yatri Express, abbreviated as Uday Express, is equipped with a slew of new features such as infotainment system with Wi-Fi, GPS-based passenger information system, food vending machines and an exclusive dining area for passengers. The chair-car train also has anti-graffiti vinyl wrapping, a mini pantry, diffused LED lighting, and LCD screens.

Mahamana Express

First introduced between New Delhi and Varanasi, Mahamana Express has major design and facility upgrade for passengers in Bharat. The train features ergonomically designed ladders, snack table for side birth, Venetian and roller blinds instead of conventional window curtains, LED berth indicators, more charging points, fire extinguisher, electric chimney in pantry car, revamped toilets fitted with odour control system, exhaust fans, LED lights, dustbins, bigger mirrors and controlled discharged watt.

Vande Bharat Express – Train 18

Vande Bharat Express, popularly known as Train 18, is an indigenous electric multiple unit (EMU) manufactured by the Chennai-based Integrated Coach Factory. Vande Bharat express is the best initiative of Modi led NDA government which has drastically changed the way rail travel was looked at. Built at cost of ₹100 crore the train is indigenously manufactured under ‘Make in India’ initiative.

“Each train has 16 compartments, including two first-class coaches. Its carrying capacity is 1,128 passengers, with each coach accommodating 78 people and the first class 52. The train has electrically operated, automatic sliding doors similar to those in metro coaches. It has cushioned comfortable seats, vacuum toilets and a better interior design than the Shatabdis.”

Train 18, the first Semi-High Speed train of Bharat, can run at a maximum speed of 180 km per hour and during trials, the highest operational speed achieved was 160 km per hour. This train in itself is a giant leap forward in modernization of Bharatiya Railway and will become every day mode of travelling throughout the nation in near future.

Modi led NDA government’s exertion in refining obsolete and archaic model of railway, specifically in bringing in modern coaches with contemporary and up-to-date technologies as well as expertise, is a prudent and futuristic effort. New trains, with amended rudimentary and fundamental passenger amenities, are running as flag-bearers of new age Bharat’s ambitions.

The government has proven, by bringing in these various new services that it is capable of not only promising but also delivering on ground, which was rather uncommon in previous times.

(Read Part 1 of the series here.)


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About the Author

Yogendra Thakur
A student and two time state topper in Astrophysics and Art of Lecturing. Primary focus areas are Indology and Economics.