Kerala’s first semi-high-speed train, the Vande Bharat Express, is set to be launched later this month. The train will initially be run with 16 coaches, but if patronage is poor, it may be reduced by half. A second Vande Bharat Express is also planned, using the eight cars that would be removed from the train if ridership on the first service is below expectations.
The next likely routes for the Vande Bharat Express in Kerala are the Ernakulam-Mangaluru and Ernakulam-Bengaluru routes, both of which are in Karnataka. However, due to the Model Code of Conduct coming into force in Karnataka for the upcoming elections, these plans may face delays. It is possible that the second Vande Bharat Express may run on another route within the state of Kerala if the BJP exerts political pressure.
Originally, the Railways had intended to deliver an eight-coach train to Kerala, but instead, a 16-car train was delivered from the Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory (ICF). The train arrived in Kerala on Friday ahead of its launch by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 25 at a function in Thiruvananthapuram. At the same function, the Prime Minister will also lay the foundation stone for the renovation of the Thiruvananthapuram station on the airport model.
There is currently uncertainty over whether the promised second new rake will be provided to the state. If the 16-car train fails to meet ridership targets and is reduced to eight coaches, it’s unclear if the state will still receive the second train. The Southern Railway plans to deploy it on the Tirunelveli-Chennai route.
The Vande Bharat Express is a flagship project of the Indian Railways, with a top speed of 160 kmph. It features automatic doors, a GPS-based passenger information system, and onboard Wi-Fi, among other amenities. The launch of the Vande Bharat Express in Kerala is expected to provide a faster and more efficient mode of transportation for passengers, boosting tourism in the state.