redRail by redBus presents ‘Window Seat’: A riveting podcast series unveiling remarkable stories – Episode 2 spotlights Sudhanshu Mani and the Vande Bharat Express
We have an amazing story today from Mr Sudhanshu Mani, popularly known as the father of Vande Bharat Trains. He is the driving force behind the Vande Bharat Trains. Mr Sudhanshu Mani talked about his experience working on the Vande Bharat project in an exclusive interview with redBus, as well as the obstacles and hurdles he met along the way.
Continue reading to see how a retired Mechanical Engineer with 38 years of experience became the mastermind behind India’s first semi-high-speed train, commonly known as Vande Bharat.
Fight for the Window Seat! What is it all About?
“The window seat of a train affords you something that a bus seat and, of course, a plane seat can never afford, particularly in our country” Mr Sudhanshu Mani replied. And we couldn’t agree more. He then shared with us one of his most memorable memories of a train journey from Lucknow to Guwahati when he was 14 years old. He mentioned the stunning scenic views on that journey as one of his most favourite train experiences.
He was right when he stated, “Train travels and journeys are the true essence of the lives of common people in our country with so many different flavours.”
From a Train Traveler to a Train Engineer
Mr Sudhanshu Mani noted that, despite his fascination and love for trains and train journeys as a child, he never anticipated himself working for the Railways one day. He aspired to be an engineer because he excelled in mathematics. He enrolled in IIT Roorkee in order to continue his education.
Railways entered his life as a result of one of the schemes at the time. That’s intriguing, isn’t it? Life has its own unique ways of surprising you.
Engineers were recruited by the Railways at the age of 16-17 for a course that offered a reasonable stipend and job security under the scheme. At that age, who wouldn’t desire such a chance and employment security?
So Mr. Sudhanshu, commonly known as the “Father of Vande Bharat Trains,” joined the Railways and became a Train Engineer in this manner.
Project 18 to Vande Bharat Trains- How did this Evolution Happen?
Sudhanshu Mani stated in the interview, “Project 18 became Vande Bharat, the moment the Prime Minister adopted it.”
He also told us the entire backstory. The project was given the name Project 18 since it was supposed to launch in 2018, just before his retirement. But, the entire manufacturing procedure would normally take 36 to 40 months, which they didn’t have due to his retirement. And they couldn’t afford to stop the project in the middle. So, Mr Sudhanshu geared up and initiated the project and encouraged everyone in it to work diligently in order to successfully finish it before his retirement.
He continued by pointing out that the most significant challenge for the Vande Bharat express was getting the necessary clearances from the ministry and railway authorities. But, with persistent efforts he succeeded in getting the approvals.
This news quickly spread, capturing the attention of the public and the media. According to Mr Sudhanshu, it was like something manufactured in India, within the country, for its people, without the assistance of outside technologies. People in the country began to regard it as a source of national pride.
Mr. Sudhanshu also recalls how our Prime Minister elegantly summarized it in all of his speeches, saying, “the train reflects the spirit of an aspirational resurgent India.” And, in keeping with the spirit of our Prime Minister, the PMOffice chose the name Vande Bharat for the first commercial train. And we are all aware of the impact that the term “Vande Bharat” has created. Not to mention that the name was perfectly fitting.
Vande Bharat- An Indian Engineering Marvel, Why?
Mr Sudhanshu believes that the biggest USP of the Vande Bharat train is its ability to reduce travel time. He continued by mentioning “Other things like the ride index, whether the ride is comfortable, jerk-free. The amenities provided on board, which has so many novel features, like you could talk back to the driver, and diffused lighting”.
Not only that, even the gangway between two coaches is sealed, making it easier to walk around for children and older passengers. Vande Bharat also has neatly appointed toilets with vacuum evacuation features, etc.
Can Vande Bharat Make it to the Top Five Trains in the World?
Mr Sudhanshu responded enthusiastically, saying that while Vande Bharat is not yet a first-class train, it is on its way. However, we must strive to make it a world-class train.
And we can’t wait to see an Indian high-speed train join the list of the world’s top trains, alongside high-speed trains from other countries such as Japan, which inaugurated its high-speed trains 50 years ago. Vande Bharat certainly has the ability to get on the list.
You can watch the complete interview of Mr Sudhanshu Mani about his masterpiece Vande Bharat here.
Mr Sudhanshu Mani is unquestionably a wise guy, and at the end of our discussion, he mentioned his eternal love for Shakespeare, as well as how wisdom from the ages has aided him in his work and life. “And that’s how an engineer came to learn more about life through Shakespeare, other poets, visual arts, and so on,” he stated.
When asked for advice for the younger generation, he responded, “overcome the fear of failure, because success awaits those who are willing to take failures.” And then, as a closing shot, he remarked something simple but insightful: “whatever you do, what you work for, the people or organization you work for,
do it with 100% love. Love the people, as it is not human to love everyone.” Isn’t that correct? When you love what you do, the results will be nothing short of remarkable.
We have a lot to learn from this extraordinary and inspiring man, and I’d like to close with a quote from his poetic brief on love, “Ek lafz-e-mohabbat ka adna yeh fasana hai, simte to dil-e-aashiq, phaile to zamana hai”, which means, love your work, love your people, and make history with your unique creation!