Trains running on identified routes at 130 km/h or a greater speed on the railway network will have only air-conditioned coaches in the near future. This is part of the Railways’ plans to upgrade the network, an official said today. Stressing that the ticket prices of such trains will be “affordable”, railway ministry spokesperson DJ Narain clarified that it should not be misconstrued that “all non-AC coaches will be made into AC coaches”.
Currently, on most routes, speeds of mail/express trains have a ceiling of 110 km/h or less.
Premium trains like Rajdhani Expresses, Shatabdi Expresses and Duronto are allowed to operate at 120 km/h on significant parts of the Golden Quadrilateral and Diagonals. The rakes for such trains are suitable to operate at 130 km/h and higher speeds, officials said.
“AC coaches have become a technical necessity wherever the speed of the train is going to be above 130 km/h. Indian Railways is working on a massive plan to upgrade the railway network to high-speed potential,” Narain said.
Indian Railways is upgrading tracks on the Golden Quadrilateral and Diagonals to handle speeds of 130 km/h to 160 km/h. AC coaches will now replace the non-AC sleeper coaches only for such trains which will be running at 130/160 km/h.
“Non-AC coaches will continue to run in trains running at 110 km/h,” he said.
“It will be ensured that while the price of tickets of modified AC coaches remains very affordable for the passengers, the comfort and conveniences increase manifold and there is a substantial reduction in travel time,” Narain said.
The spokesman said that the Railways in manufacturing a prototype of such an AC coach at the Rail Coach Factory at Kapurthala. It should be ready in a few weeks.
“Presently, an 83-berth coach is being designed. It is planned to have 100 such coaches this year and 200 next year. The coaches will be evaluated and experience gained from the running of these coaches will lead to further progress,” he said.
Officials said that the new AC coaches would be economical as their tickets will be priced between AC 3 and sleeper coaches.
Compared to 72 berths in a sleeper coach, the new AC coach will have 83 berths, but the number of berths in a coupe will remain the same. However, there will be no extra middle berth between side-upper and side-lower berths.
The coaches are being re-designed by moving the electrical units and removing the space reserved for storing blankets and bedsheets. Railways will stop providing them due to coronavirus.