Tech Updates & Reviews

Train 18 – India’s First Ever Engine-Less Train To Move On

This is surely an unbelievable and huge achievement in the development of Indian rail department as India is all set for the moving of their first ever engine-less train.

The trial run of the country’s engine-less train will be conducted on 17 November on the Bareilly-Moradabad section. “Train 18”, developed by the Integral Coach Factory and seen as a successor to the Shatabdi Express, was unveiled last month by Railway Board chairman Ashwani Lohani.

The fully air-conditioned train, driven by a self-propulsion module, can run at a speed of up to 160 kmph and comes with technical features for enhanced quick acceleration.

A team of the Research Designs and Standards Organisation has reached Moradabad for the trial run. The Rs. 100 crore train is the first long-distance train without a separate locomotive or engine.

The railways on Friday sought to downplay reports that the train had developed glitches, saying they were minor and such issues were routine during the trial phase of any train. “Some fuses went off while conducting the low-speed run in the city (Chennai). They were fixed immediately. There was nothing to worry about,” a railway official told news agency Press Trust of India.

The 16-coach train was built in 18 months. It left for Delhi on November 11 and reached the national capital two days later. “After the test-run, Train 18 was hauled by a locomotive to take it to Delhi as it should not run on its own until the Commission of Railway Safety certifies it,” the official said.


Basically Train 18 is an Indian semi-high speed train and India’s first intercity electric multiple unit, a type of self-propelled loco-less train. It is also the first train to be designed and built entirely in India. It was designed and built by Integral Coach Factory (ICF) Chennai under the Indian government’s Make in India Initiative over a span of 18 months. The unit cost of the first rake was given as ₹100 crore (US$14 million), though the unit cost is expected to go down with subsequent production. At the original price, it is estimated to be 40% less costly than a similar train imported from Europe.The train is planned to begin service in February 2019, by which date a second unit will have been produced and readied for service.

The train’s first trial run occurred on October 29, 2018 in Chennai, focusing on the train’s brakes and crew orientation,with further testing to be done in Delhi on November 7 and later in Rajasthan. After Delhi, speed testing will be conducted, first at 150 kilometres per hour (93 mph), and then at its operating speed of 160 kilometres per hour (99 mph). A team put together by India’s Research Design and Standards Organisation will supervise the testing and give the go-ahead for the final speed test.

The first set of trains will run between New Delhi and Bhopal, replacing the Delhi–Bhopal Shatabdi Express, which has been running for thirty years and reducing travel time along the route by 15 percent, or even more once the tracks are properly fitted for the unit. The train’s regenerative brakes are also expected to allow a 30% savings in electricity costs as compared to its predecessor. At an operating speed of 160 kilometres per hour (99 mph), it will outpace the Shatabdi Express by 30 kilometres per hour (19 mph). Every other car on the train is motorised.

Train 18’s exterior appearance has been likened to that of a bullet train, with an aerodynamic narrowing of each end of the train. It has a driver coach at each end of the train, allowing for faster turnaround at each end of the line. Internally, the train has 16 passenger cars, with a seating capacity of 1,128 passengers. Two of the center compartments are first class compartments that seat 52 each, with the rest being coach compartments seating 78 each. The train’s seats, braking system, doors, and transformers are the only elements of the train to be imported, with plans to make them domestically on the production of the next unit.

How does train 18 move without an engine?

A train in a traditional manner consist of Locomotive (also called “The Engine” in general term) which pulls Wagons/coaches. Locomotive is self-propelled (by Diesel or Electricity) while Wagons cannot move on their own.

It takes tremendous amount of power for the single Locomotive to pull about 20 or 30 wagons and this limits (Restricts) acceleration of train.

Higher acceleration means a stationary train will take shorter time to come into its running speed. Also if a train is running slow on a particular section (due to crossing or track limitations like bridges) it can pick up speed very quickly. Single Locomotive train needs powerful motor/diesel engine to achieve such higher acceleration & it would create more jerks on coupling (which connects coaches with Locomotive & one another).

Thus, Engineers brought a new concept. Why not to install Electric motor in each wagon to make them self propelled! Thus the Electric multiple units (EMU) were born.. It eliminated a Single Locomotive Engine unit train system. With betterment in traction (Propulsion by electric motor) & braking system technology they are now used extensively in the world.

The use of EMU system has been restricted to Sub-urban rail network & metro rails. It provides flexibility, with few switches direction of train can be reversed.

Railways did not explore this concept of EMU to long distance trains until now. But now it has come up with Train-18.

Thus train-18 is basically the EMU. It offers better acceleration thus travel time will be saved. But peak speed is always Limited by Rail tracks. Indian rail tracks are non-Continuous-Welded-Rails, thus we can’t expect 160 kmph+ speeds here.

“It is a matter of pride that India has made such a train for the first time and that too ICF has done it within 18 months,” Mr Lohani had told reporters when the train was unveiled last month.

“Within 2018-19 production year another unit of the train would be manufactured and four more units would be manufactured by end of 2019-20 production year,” Mr Lohani said.

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