From Vande Bharat To Vande Metro: How This Proposal Of Indian Railways Can Change Mobility In Urban India


The Indian Railways plans to introduce the fully indigenous Vande Metro by 2024, following the success of Vande Bharat semi-high-speed trains.

The trains will run between two cities which are close to 100 km from each other.

Vande Bharat Metro, a mini version of the Vande Bharat Express trains, will soon be launched in the country.

Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw unveiled the Vande Metro systems plan, which remained the focus of his speech, post the Union Budget presentation on 1 February 2023.

The Indian Railways plans to introduce the fully indigenous Vande Metro by 2024, following the success of the widely-acclaimed Vande Bharat semi-high-speed trains. The design and production of Vande Metro will be completed this year.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Budget 2023 declared the highest capital expenditure for the railway sector, allocating Rs 2.41 lakh crore.

The allocation is about nine times the outlay made since 2013-2014.

Vaishnaw stated that the lack of investment in railways for years had hindered it from achieving its potential. This Rs 2.41 lakh crore capital will bridge that gap. This will become a medium to fulfill the aspirations of 800 crore passengers who travel by the railways.

The ministry has directed the general managers of Chennai-based Integral Coach Factory (ICF) and Lucknow-based Research Design and Standard Organisation (RDSO) to roll out the rakes of the smaller Vande Bharat trains at the earliest.

This announcement marks the introduction of another transit segment in redefining mobility systems in India.

These trains will be eight-coach versions compared to the 16 coaches of the Vande Bharat Express trains, and will have a similar model to that of the urban metro systems.

How Will It Benefit The Railway Transport

Vaishnaw further added, the Vande Metro will operate in big cities on a periphery of 50-60 km where there are large habitations. It will provide a rapid and world-class shuttle-like experience for commuters.

The train is being designed to provide enhanced travel experiences and will feature advanced passenger amenities. The system overall will provide a faster, more comfortable and convenient travel experience to rail users.

The primary goal of the service will be to serve shorter routes with a travel duration of four to five hours, reducing the journey time in the current trains which take six to seven hours.

The rails will run between two cities which are close to 100 km from each other.

This upgradation of service will be ideal for the cities such as Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Lucknow which additionally acts as central economic zones for its surrounding areas and smaller towns.

A significant number of people today travels daily to larger cities from surrounding habitats, satellite towns and rural areas for work, trade and leisure.

In terms of scale, India has one of the largest railway network in the world spread across 115,000 km, with 12,617 passenger trains from 7,349 stations transporting 20 million people on a daily basis.

The daily commute of these people to the cities remains largely through the existing passenger trains, which are mostly overcrowded and outdated.

Furthermore, as big cities remain centres of opportunities, large settling migration is also seen as people from neighbouring regions seek to avoid the daily commute on overcrowded trains.

Such needs of regular commuter population would be met by this transit mode. The new services will be launched to elevate the commute experience between their place of work and home.

The railways envisions to ease travelling particularly for traders, students, working-class population and visitors who wish to travel to several large cities.

Advancing The Vande Bharat Model

The Vande Bharat Metro is planned on the success model of the Vande Bharat Express.

With the introduction of the Vande Bharat Express trains, the Indian Railways has entered a new era of mobility, with these train systems undergoing significant transformation in terms of manufacturing, services and operations.

The manufacturing cost is approximately half the cost of a similar imported train set, and is made under ‘Make in India’.

The train can achieve a maximum speed of 160-180 kmph due to its faster acceleration and deceleration. Travelling on the train will reduce the journey time by 25 per cent to 45 per cent.

The trains comes with enhanced traction motors and advanced suspension system which makes the running smoother and safer. It is equipped with an advanced regenerative braking system that helps save about 30 per cent of electricity cost.

With these upgraded segments and mobility infrastructure, the trains have been accepted highly with its success in achieving cost efficiency, speed, safety and passenger experience.

The Centre for Railway Information (CRIS) data reveals that Vande Bharat Express has been delivering exceptional results for the Indian Railways. The occupancy rate for the existing routes consistently stays close to 100 per cent. The annual revenue realised on the Delhi-Varanasi route was Rs 92.3 crore in its first year.

Minister Vaishnaw recently said that in the last two and half years, the trains have run almost 12,00,000 km and every seven to eight days a new train is being introduced.

An India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) report predicts that the introduction of 400 Vande Bharat trains would bring in revenues of approximately Rs 40,000 crore and create 15,000 direct jobs with a significant multiplier for the economy.

The new Vande Metro system is expected to carry forward the same levels of efficiency with its intended objectives for the passengers and contribution to the economy.

Difference From RRTS

This system stands different from the Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) in terms of its infrastructure, operations and management model.

RRTS is a high speed, high capacity, commuter service that is currently under development to connect the regional nodes in National Capital Region (NCR). This mobility system will have its dedicated corridor and required infrastructure focusing on achieving point-to-point regional travel at high speed.

The first corridor is being set up between Delhi and Meerut at a length of 86 km, which is being made by the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC).

The Vande Bharat Metro model will be operated on the railways infrastructure. It will intend to replace the existing older passenger trains of the Indian railways network.