Day after breaking down, India's semi-high speed Vande Bharat train begins first commercial run

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flags off the made-in-India Vande Bharat Express. It was earlier called Train 18. Photograph:( IANS )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 17, 2019, 09.48 AM (IST)

India's first semi-high-speed train, the Vande Bharat Express, began its first commercial run Sunday. The train left Delhi at 6 am and is is expected to reach Varanasi by 2 pm. 

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said tickets on the train were sold out for the next two weeks. 

"Vande Bharat Express left Delhi for Varanasi today morning on its first commercial run. Tickets sold out for the next two weeks already. Get yours today!" he tweeted. 

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The Vande Bharat had broken down early Saturday on its way from Varanasi to Delhi. 

In a detailed press release issued on Saturday night, the Railways said that during transportation back from Varanasi, the train was stopped at Chamraula station in the National Capital Region, about 18 kms after crossing Tundla station. 

"There was an issue of communication between the last basic unit of 4 coaches and the rest of the train probably due to some external hit. Thereafter, safety features in the train applied brakes. The train was checked for faults and moved to Delhi," the Railways said.

The Vande Bharat was earlier called Train 18. It had left Varanasi for Delhi at 10:30 pm Friday, about 45 minutes after reaching the holy city on its inaugural journey.

The first breakdown occurred around 15 km from Tundla junction in Uttar Pradesh early Saturday morning.

"It was a case of skidding wheels after the train ran over cattle," Northern Railway CPRO Deepak Kumar had said in the morning.

According to sources, including several journalists on board the train, the train was stuck near Tundla for over an hour.

The sources said that before the train came to a halt, its last coaches started making a rattling sound.

"There was some smell in the last four coaches which had no power. Also some smoke was noticed. Loco pilots decreased the speed for some time. I heard the officials talking about brake malfunction," a source on the train said.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi took a potshot at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Make in India campaign after the breakdown. 

"Modi ji, i think Make in India needs a serious rethink. Most people feel it has failed. I assure you we in the Congress are thinking very deeply about how it will be done," Rahul tweeted. 

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Piyush Goyal quickly tweeted back: "Such a shame that you choose to attack the hard work and ingenuity of Indian engineers, technicians and labourers. It is THIS mindset which needs a reset. ‘Make In India’ is a success and a part of crores of Indian lives. Your family had 6 decades to think, wasn’t that enough?"

(With inputs from PTI)

Story highlights

'Vande Bharat Express left Delhi for Varanasi today morning on its first commercial run. Tickets sold out for the next two weeks already. Get yours today!' Railway Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted.