Prime Minister Narendra Modi will soon flag off Train 18 -- the country's fastest train -- on the Delhi-Varanasi route, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said Thursday.
The train, built under the 'Make In India' initiative, will pave the way for bullet trains, the railways minister added.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch Train 18 on Delhi Banaras route...It has maximum speed, built with indigenous design in Indian factory under Make In India initiative," Goyal said.
He was speaking at the launch of PSU Concor's containers voyage through coastal shipping, flagged by Shipping and Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Goyal said Train 18's run-time would be eight hours, about one-and-a-half times faster than the fastest train on the route.
"For bullet trains, this will be the first baby step in that direction," the minister said.
He said the Indian Railways has taken several initiatives in the last four-and-half years and has completely stopped old coaches and introduced LHB coaches for passenger safety.
He said Indian Railways will be one of the first railways in the world to be run entirely on electricity. A Rail University has also been started with the objective to augment the transportation sector, he added.
Unmanned level crossings on the broad gauge is negligible, he said, claiming that perhaps only one such unmanned crossing exists.
Railways contribute significantly to low freight transportation, he added.
Earlier this month, Goyal had said that Train 18 has "amenities of international standards, is Wi-Fi enabled, CCTV cameras and it has no locomotive or engine. It is a trainset. It will cover the 750-km route at a maximum speed of 160kmph".
There will be two classes -- one regular and another executive class -- and they will be fully air-conditioned, he had said.
The Railway Protection Force (RPF) is running campaigns to sensitise people on the Train 18 route so that incidents like the one that happened recently near Delhi, where a stone was thrown at it during a trial run, were not repeated, Goyal had said.
The train has a number of features to enhance passenger comfort, including interconnected fully-sealed gangways, automatic doors with retractable footsteps, GPS-based passenger information system, modular toilets with bio-vacuum systems, rotational seats that can be aligned in the direction of travel (available only in the executive class), roller blinds, diffused LED lighting and differently-abled-friendly toilets.