NEW DELHI (Metro Rail News): The Indian railways is working on a plan to upgrade all its trains capable of running at a maximum speed of 130 kmph and beyond with special air-conditioned coaches in a bid to upgrade its high-speed network, the railway ministry said on Sunday. There will be no sleeper coaches in these identified trains.
The ministry recently clarified that the decision will only impact high-speed trains and all existing mail and express trains with a maximum speed of up to 110 kmph will continue to ply with sleeper coaches.
“AC coaches become a technical necessity wherever the speed of the train is going to be above 130 kmph. Indian Railways is working on a massive plan to upgrade the railway network to high-speed potential. Tracks on golden quadrilateral and diagonals are being upgraded to cater to the speed of 130 km – 160 km/hour. Non-AC sleeper coaches would be replaced by AC coaches only for such trains which will be running at a maximum speed of 130/160 kmph. Speed potential of some of the corridors has already been upgraded to 130 kmph. Wind and weather factors demand that only certain type of coaches run on higher speed,” an official was stated saying.
At present, most mail and express trains have a maximum speed of 110 kmph. Premium trains like Rajdhanis, Shatabdis and Durontos are allowed to operate at 120 kmph on significant parts of the Golden Quadrilateral and Diagonals. The rakes for such trains are fit to operate at 130 kph or above.
Officials added that these new AC coaches will be “economical coaches” similar to AC-3 chair car coaches in Humsafar Trains that have a rationalised fare structure. “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,” an official said.
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A prototype of the new AC coach is being made at railways’ production unit at Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, and should be ready in a few weeks according to sources. Compared to 72 berths in a sleeper coach, this new AC coach will have 83 berths, but the number of births in a coupe will remain the same as there will be no middle berths 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 since Railways will stop providing them due to the ongoing pandemic.