The two new Vande Bharat Express trains flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday became the first trains in the Indian Railways’ history to ascend the two steep Ghats or mountainous sections near Mumbai without using additional locomotives, officials said.
The Vande Bharat trains for Sainagar Shirdi and Solapur, which started their journey from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus here, successfully negotiated the Thal Ghat and Bhor Ghat, respectively, without ‘bankers’ or additional locomotives providing them extra push in the rear.
Both the Ghats, with a gradient of 1:37 (for every 37-metre run there is a rise of one metre), are among the steepest and the toughest in the county.
All trains, be it goods trains or passenger ones, are hauled up by additional locomotives from the Mumbai side when passing through these Ghats.
But during trials, the new Vande Bharat Express trains manufactured at the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai successfully ascended and descended the Ghats without bankers.
A senior railway officer told PTI said that alternate coaches of the Vande Bharat trains running on both the routes have been fitted with parking brakes to ensure that the trains do not roll down in case of any eventuality like power failure in the Ghats.
Commercial runs of these semi high-speed trains will start from Saturday.
To cut travel time, the railway authorities decided to run them without bankers through the Ghats, as attaching additional locomotives takes a few minutes.
The Sainagar Shirdi-bound Vande Bharat Express will travel through the 14-km Thal Ghat (also called Kasara Ghat) between Kasara-Igatpuri.
The Solapur-bound Vande Bharat Express will run through the 25-km Bhor Ghat (also called Khandala Ghat) between Karjat-Lonavla section.
The Vande Bharat Express between Mumbai and Solapur will cover the distance of around 450 km in 6.35 hours.
The Mumbai-Shirdi high-speed train is expected to cover the distance of around 340 km in 5.25 hours.