Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw speaks at a press meet on the Budget 2023-24, in New Delhi, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023 | Photo: PTI
New Delhi: Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Tuesday announced that Kerala's Vande Bharat Express will now be extended to Kasaragod. Initially, the service was scheduled to end in Kannur. He said the decision to extend the service was taken following a request from union minister for state V Muraleedharan.
The tracks will be renovated in two phases, with the first phase expected to be completed within a year and a half. After the first phase, the train will achieve a speed of 110 kmph. The second phase, which will involve straightening the turns and other necessary adjustments, will take two to three and a half years to complete, and after this, the train's speed will be increased to 130 kmph. Land acquisition is required to straighten the curves, he said. Kerala has more than 600 curves on its railway track, mostly in the southern districts.
The average speed during the trial run on Monday was less than 70 kmph. Loco pilot claimed the train reached 110 kmph in the northern districts of the state. India's fastest running train, the Vande Bharat Express, has been running at an average speed of around 83 kmph in the country over the last two years due to poor track conditions while having a permissible top speed of 130 kmph for commercial services, an RTI reply had revealed.
Furthermore, the minister stated that efforts will be made to achieve a speed of 160 kmph in the future. However, he acknowledged that it is a complex task. Currently, only one Vande Bharat Express service has been allotted to Kerala, but the minister assured that there will be more services in the future to cater to the growing demand. He said that Vande Bharat sleeper trains and metro trains will also be rolled out in the future. Sleeper trains are ideal for distances over 500 km and metros connect cities in the 200 km range, he added.
The prime minister will inaugurate Kerala's first Vande Bharat Express train on April 25. During the trial run on Monday, the express departed from Thiruvananthapuram at 5:10 am and arrived at Kannur at 12:20 pm. It took 7 hours and 10 minutes to cover 502 kilometres.