Vande Bharat: A Game Changer
For North-easterners, the wait for Vande Bharat Express will be over soon as the stage is all set for the inaugural run of the high-speed train from New Jalpaiguri to Guwahati after the successful completion of the trial run on Sunday last. Aimed at bringing Indian cities closer by reducing travel time considerably, the Vande Bharat Express will cover the 410 kilometer distance between two important cities of West Bengal and Northeast in six hours, which is much less than the time currently taken by the Rajdhani Express considered the fastest train on this line. It will be a boon for a large section of the population who visit these two cities frequently for business and other purposes. It is hoped that like other major states of the country, all major Northeastern cities will be connected with Vande Bharat trains soon, which will definitely open a new vista for the economic prosperity of the region.
In this regard, after the introduction of the New Jalpaiguri-Guwahati Vande Bharat Express, the railway authorities should seriously look into connecting cities like Dimapur and Dibrugarh with Guwahati by including these cities in the new network. It is expected that the second Vande Bharat Express in the region will run between Dimapur and Guwahati to help thousands of people who travel between these two cities every day for various purposes. At present, the two and fro journey between the two cities takes more than 10 hours, which effectively means that a person will have to catch an overnight train to come back to Nagaland. If the high-speed train is introduced in this section, a person from Nagaland can go to Guwahati in the morning and come back in the evening as Vande Bharat will reduce the travel time to merely six hours. Similarly, the new train may cover the distance between Dibrugarh and Guwahati much faster than Rajdhani Express.
The Vande Bharat Express is all set to transform Indian Railways as the new train will end the reliance on locomotives, as it is powered by a self-propulsion module that does not require any outside unit to pull it. It can reach a speed of 180 kms within minutes. This indigenously built electric train unit is capable of adding the speed and efficiency to the Indian Railways required to ease the pressure of ever-increasing number of passengers as each train can accommodate 1128 persons. With the introduction of sleeper coaches in Vande Bharat Express, Indian Railways will make a complete departure from its 170-year-old system. The crucial thing that requires attention of the authorities is that the timing of the trains be fixed and maintained for the convenience of all. For this purpose it can take a leaf out of Howrah-Dhanbad or Howrah-Tatanagar intercity express where two pairs of trains run every day from either direction in the morning and evening to enable people to travel and go back to their homes after the completion of their works on the same day. Vande Bharat should adopt the same formula (once more coaches are available) to become a truly passenger-friendly train service and write a new chapter in the history of the Indian Railways.