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Saturday, December 28, 2019


Train 18 better known as the Vande Bharat took the country by storm in January this year, and rightly so. The first train set of the nation built indigenously for intercity travel, by the oldest coach manufacturer of India, the Integral Coach Factory of Chennai in a record time and at a cost far below what it would cost to import is no mean achievement, besides being a tremendous example of the make in India initiative.    

The success of the T-18 project also brings out the inherent potential and capability of the gigantic railway system that despite its structural limitations, complex bureaucratic systems and archaic processes remains one of the finest symbols of deliverance in the country.

The “Make in India” initiative of the Prime Minister has instilled national pride and enhanced national prestige besides also emerging as perhaps the finest step in recent times towards nation building, with the Chandrayan and Vande Bharat emerging as brilliant examples of this national resolve.  

Such initiatives are unique for they foster innovation, enhance skill development, protect intellectual property and strengthen the manufacturing infrastructure in the country. The impact of the Make in India initiatives on the economic growth of the country is going to be substantial as they also focus on utilising the existing Indian talent base, creating additional employment opportunities and empowering secondary and tertiary sectors. In the long run the ongoing efforts at streamlining archaic laws and regulations, making bureaucratic processes easier and making the working of the government more transparent, responsive and accountable would lead to  improvement in India’s rank in the Ease of Doing Business index.

The first rake of the Vande Bharat train has been making an uninterrupted run between Delhi and Varanasi sans a failure and that speaks volumes about the quality achieved using indigenous resources. It also demonstrates that our home grown industry is capable of rising to the occasion and manufacturing world class products.

The creation of a new design of rolling stock normally takes a painfully long time for fruition. That the Vande Bharat could be rolled out in a very short time frame of eighteen months by the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai is almost a miracle made possible by a team of bright and bold officers led by the General Manager whose belief in the supremacy of deliverance never wavered. Interestingly the creation of this train was preceded by a plethora of sweeping cultural and environmental transformations with the factory emerging as a glowing example of the change that many organizations in the country have been vying for.

Train Sets for intercity travel so common overseas have been a dream for the nation since the last many decades. While the capability and the intent was never in doubt, what was missing was a driving force that could singlehandedly drive the project to completion through the maze of complex processes, archaic rules and procedural constraints. A breakthrough like this needed single minded resolution, will power in abundance and a monumental team effort.

In addition to transforming the bureaucratic systems, ushering in cultural, procedural and structural reforms and simplifying decision making processes, enabling such initiatives to proliferate would need simplified tendering processes and enhanced quotient of trust within the system. The complexity of the tendering processes coupled with supremacy of the L1 leaves tremendous scope for an interpretation based on hindsight and therefore a scenario where decision making invariably gets mired in bouts of fear.  

At the same time there is a crying need to protect and support those who in the interest of delivery and nation building play on the front foot and at times make mistakes identified as such in the hindsight. Treating genuine mistakes as malafide even if done inadvertently would dampen initiative.

The Vande Bharat initiative has given a new dimension to train travel in India. As a shift to “train set” type of trains for inter-city travel is very much needed and the ability to indigenously manufacture is effectively established, it is only logical that this initiative is aggressively taken forward.

In the national interest it is imperative that one of the finest initiatives ever taken by the railways is not allowed to wither away.


  1. It is a phenomenal initiative akin to the Shinkansen Project initiative of 1958 by Shinji Shoji which changed History of post war devrlopdeve of Japan ,and enen today

  2. Respected Sir,
    I am an IRCTCian. Thanks for enlightening us after a long time. Just wanted to know what is making IR to put brakes on Vande Bharat concept.....is it bureaucracy or safety issues as being stated....thanks

  3. Perfectly said. But, one already fears that the internecine wars have already caused a huge setback to, if not killed thetT18 project already.