The Indian Railways has decided to phase out non-air conditioned coaches from its mail and express trains, in a move that is expected to bring comfort to long distance travel but pinch a bigger hole in the pockets of those now availing the low-cost sleeper coach services.
In an exclusive interview to Economic Times, Railways Board chairman Vinod Kumar Yadav has said that the Indian Railways will be replacing all non-AC coaches from every mail and express trains. Thus, in future, all mail and express trains are expected to be AC-only.
The 72-berth sleeper coaches are to be replaced with 83-berth AC coaches, the report said pointing out to a new blueprint of the Railways. The fares for the new coaches will be a bit lower than the current AC fares but higher than the sleeper class ticket.
The new coaches are currently under trial, reports suggest. They were built at the Railways’ Kapurthala factory.
Yadav said that the sleeper-to-AC transition is in line with the plan to increase the speed of mail and express trains to 130 kmph by 2023 in golden quadrilateral section and further to 160 kmph by 2025. Sleeper coaches could be slowed down by wind and dust and thus they are being dropped, said the Railways Board chairman.
“Once all mail and express trains start running at 130 kmph or more, non-AC coaches will create technical and other problems because of wind and dust. So, we will gradually phase out all non-AC coaches in about 1,900 mail and express trains. It’s a big exercise and we will do it in a phased manner,” the report quoted him as saying.