Passengers traveling on the Vande Bharat Express to Tirupati were left frustrated and engaged in heated arguments with South Central Railway (SCR) officials when the train scheduled to depart at 6.15 a.m. arrived at Secunderabad station six hours late around noon on November 7th.
The delay was due to a maintenance check revealing a problem with the undergear spring of chair car coach C-2. To rectify the issue, the top portion of the coach had to be detached for the defective part’s replacement, a time-consuming process.
In conventional trains, malfunctioning coaches can be swapped with functional ones, but the Vande Bharat Express is a unique design, and it lacks spare rakes or train sets. This means that when a significant issue arises, the entire train must be halted, resulting in longer delays.
Passengers, who had received multiple alerts about delays with no official explanations, were left bewildered and anxious. They arrived at the station early in the morning, only to receive conflicting messages about the departure time. Frustration reached a point where furious passengers confronted the station master to demand information. Railway police had to intervene to calm the situation, relocating the passengers to a reserved lounge while they awaited the train. Passengers faced further inconveniences onboard the train. Breakfast was served at an unusually late hour, around 1 p.m., and there was a lack of running water in the train’s toilets for a significant portion of the journey.
The delayed arrival of the incoming train also affected the return journey from Tirupati. Instead of the usual 3.15 p.m. departure, the return train started at 8.45 p.m., arriving at Secunderabad station at 4.45 a.m. on Tuesday, significantly later than the previously scheduled 11.30 p.m. arrival. Due to the absence of a spare rake, resolving major issues with the Vande Bharat Express leads to extended delays. Railway officials expressed hope that maintenance staff would ensure better punctuality from Wednesday, as there were no services on Tuesday.
The Vande Bharat Express, initially launched with eight coaches, was later expanded to 14 due to high demand, accommodating up to 1,128 passengers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated this service on 8th April 2022, but its unique design and lack of spare train sets have presented challenges in dealing with technical issues and ensuring timely departures.