The second Vande Bharat Express, which will run on the high traffic Delhi-Katra route, will begin operations before the festival season, Railway Board Chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav said on Tuesday, adding that 40 such trains with sleeper class versions will be ready by 2022.
While the Delhi-Katra train will have modifications like more comfortable seats and pantry space, the others, for which the bidding process will begin next month, will weigh less, consume lesser energy and will be fit for sleeper coaches, Yadav said.
"The Delhi-Katra Vande Bharat Express has completed all trials and will be run before the festival season begins from October," he said.
The Delhi-Katra route was chosen by the Railway Board in a bid to capitalise on the high traffic volume owing to the Vaishno Devi temple pilgrimage.
The high speed train, which currently offers only chair car service, will bring down the travel time between Delhi and Katra, the last station on the way to the Vaishno Devi temple, to eight hours from the present 12 hours.
The first Vande Bharat Express or Train 18 was launched on the Delhi-Varanasi route.
Seeking to clarify allegations of malpractice in the production of the first two trains, Yadav conceded that "irregularities" were found in the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, which produced the trains, but the inquiry being conducted, he said, was not specific to the Vande Bharat Express.
"We had received complaints about procurement irregularities in ICF in general. Things like rates were much higher than general rates across IR and Vigilance Department conducted an investigation and found irregularities," he said.
Yadav said the inquiry will be completed in the next three months.