The new Vande Bharat sleeper trains are expected to be a big upgrade from the premium Rajdhani Express service. Indian Railways has said that the new trains will have passenger amenities comparable to that of “best-in-class” trains globally in terms of comfort, functionality and aesthetics. It has asked the bidders to study the existing LHB sleeper coaches and ensure that the passenger amenities and facilities are “far superior”.
The fully air-conditioned trains will be designed for a life of 35 years to be used for long and medium distance services. According to the tender documents, the sleeper trains would be made of stainless steel or aluminum, with the latter being a first for railways. Similar to the existing Vande Bharat trains, these will have driving cabs at both ends, allowing them to run in either direction without a locomotive.
The 16 car train sets will have 11 AC 3-tier coaches, 20 car trains will have 15 and 24 car trains will have 19 coaches. All three configurations will have 4 AC 2-tier coaches and 1 First Class AC coach.
Here’s a look at 20 features passengers can look forward to the new Vande Bharat sleeper trains:
1. Interior furnishing: The aim is to give passengers the impression of “high quality service”. All interior surfaces will be resistant to physical damage by vandalism, fading, scouring, acid etching or graffiti, and shall be easy to clean and maintain. An anti-graffiti clear coating shall be provided on exterior painting as well.
2. Berths: All berths will be adequately cushioned for comfortable long journeys. While the First Class AC coaches shall have cubicles with doors, the AC 2-tier and 3-tier coaches will have suitable partitions for “privacy, ambience and comfort”.
3. Coach-wise features: All sleeper coaches will have individual cushioned lightweight berths, sufficient room for free movement, laptop-cum-mobile charging socket and USB for each seat, individual reading lights and magazine pouch and bottle holder for each passenger.
All passenger coaches will have LED-type night lights at suitable locations. In all coaches except driving coaches, space for keeping linen for passengers and one berth for escorting staff shall be provided.
In the AC 3-tier coach, one snack table will be made available for 4 passengers, while in the AC 2-tier the table will be for 3 passengers. The First Class AC coach will additionally have one LCD display per cabin and one snack table per passenger.
4. Toilets: The new Vande Bharat trains will also make use of zero-discharge bio toilets. There will be a minimum of two toilets per driving coach and three in other coaches. One toilet per coach will be Indian style and the remaining shall have a western commode with suitable seat and cover including health faucet. In the First Class AC coach, the toilet shall include shower area with hot water provision.
The toilets will have the provision of automated toilet flushing when not flushed by the user liquid soap dispenser, toilet paper dispenser, wash basin with water tap, toilet ready indications, devices for extraction of foul air from toilet compartment, mirrors, coat hooks, toilet freshener liquid /tablets, grab handle. There will be toilet occupancy indicators at each end of the coach.
Rajdhani Express interior
5. Maximum speed: The trains will be designed to run at a maximum speed of 160 kmph, in line with railways’ plan to upgrade major routes to semi-high speed. They will be tested at 180 kmph. Additionally, the trains will be capable of accelerating to 160 kmph from 0 kmph in a maximum of 140 seconds on level track.
6. Automatic doors: All coaches will have automatic internal doors and automatic plug type doors on each side.
7. Sub-pantry: All trains will have a sub-pantry with the following equipment; bottle cooler cum deep freezer, water boiler, hot case, trolley for serving passengers, waste disposal arrangement.
8. CCTVs: Each coach of the train will have adequate surveillance cameras to cover the passenger areas. For the sleeper trains, coverage of the entire corridor in the coach will be provided.
9. Passenger information system: A GPS-based passenger information system will be installed for automatic announcements. It will also display the destination information in Hindi, English and regional languages.
10. Weather conditions: Indian Railways has asked the supplier to keep note of the environmental operating conditions, specially during heavy monsoon, track flooding conditions, saline, humid and dusty atmosphere etc.
11. Wi-Fi based infotainment system: A Wi-Fi based infotainment system will be accessible for all passengers.
12. Emergency alarms & exits: There will be at least 2 emergency exits per vehicle for less than 40 passengers and at least 4 for more than 40 passengers. All passengers will be able to contact the loco pilot or guard by activating an emergency alarm signal handle to stop the train and receive assistance. Four emergency talk-backs shall be provided in cars. Disaster management LED lights will automatically be switched ON in the event of non-availability of battery supply due to parting of cars or derailment of the train.
13. Kavach: All new Vande Bharat trains will make use of the Kavach Automatic Train Protection system. The indigenous system controls the speed of the train by automatically applying brakes in case the loco pilot is unable to do so.
14. Reservation information: The reservation information for each passenger seat shall be displayed on or adjacent to the seat. The system shall be able to be integrated with railways’ reservation system for automatic upgradation of the information.
15. Voice communication system: The train shall provide a public address facility for the loco pilot or guard to make announcements to the passengers.
16. Disabled-friendly: The Vande Bharat trains will have facilities for differently able persons to accommodate a wheelchair in each of the end driving trailer coaches. These coaches will have one toilet for disabled persons and another toilet for other passengers. Each coach will have the facility to accommodate two differently able persons along with two attendants.
17. Display boards: Each coach will have two digital destination boards. Additionally, there will be two LED display boards above the doorway inside each coach to show the information such as; name of approaching station, current and next halting station, time to next stations, running speed, platform side, late running status etc.
18. Fire protection: The Vande Bharat trains will have an automatic fire/smoke detection system. They will be designed to prevent fire from spreading, in case of any incident. This will be done by use of fire barriers in the floor, and in walls at the sides and ends and fire-resistant equipment housings. At least two fire extinguishers will be installed in each coach.
19. Centralized coach monitoring system: Each driving car will have a Centralized Coach Monitoring System for monitoring, recording and control of the air-conditioning and other faults eg power supply failure etc. This will also run diagnostic routines on the AC plant and generate alerts.
20. Cattle guard: Drawing from experience, Indian Railways has said that the driving cab end of the new Vande Bharat trains will have a rugged cattle guard. This will help withstand collisions at the maximum speed with animals weighing up to 600 kg.