Indian Railways' Economy AC Coaches To Replace Sleeper Class To Incorporate Premium Features, Design Innovations

Indian Railways' Economy AC Coaches To Replace Sleeper Class To Incorporate Premium Features, Design InnovationsAn AC coach in an Indian Train - representative image (piv via Facebook)

The Indian Railways is planning to introduce a new 3-tier ‘economy AC class’ coach to replace the ordinary sleeper class in long-distance trains, Times of India reports.

The Rail Coach Factory (RCF) at Kapurthala in Punjab is developing the designs for this new prototype, which promises to improve the travelling experience of passengers at a minimal cost.

Ravinder Gupta, the General Manager of RCF, describes it as a first of its kind economy AC coach with the luxury features of the upper class. 273 coaches of this new model will be launched by 2022. Several new features are being worked upon to transform the dynamics of commuting through the Indian railways at a standard expense.

Firstly, there will be 83 berths in each coach, an increase from the otherwise 72 berths. However, the developers are wary of not repeating the cluttered experience of the Garib Rath trains that were launched in 2005. Back then, an extra berth was added on the aisle side. This time around, additional space will be created by moving the electrical controls of the coaches under the carriage.

Additionally these Economy AC rakes will be made up of modern LHB coaches and will give out a premium feel and a feeling of roominess for each passenger.

"Taking inspiration from aircraft and car designs, the new AC coach will have personalised niches to create a de-cluttered feel", Gupta has been quoted as saying.

Reading light and charging points are planned to be positioned in every compartment. Furthermore, the doors will be widened to provide convenient access to wheelchairs and a disabled-friendly toilet will be installed in every coach. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an increased focus on maintaining hygiene in public transport.

The new economy AC class will have foot-operated water taps and soap dispensers in the washroom. Forearm door handles will be fitted to ensure that there is less touching of common surfaces.

As of now, trains run at a maximum speed of 110 kmph. However, the railways plan to operate some mail and express trains at 130 kmph and they need to be completely air-conditioned. Hence, an economy AC class will be built in the 130 kmph trains though the sleeper class will continue in the ones that run at 110 kmph and less.

The tickets for this brand-new type of coaches will cost more than the sleeper class and lesser than the 3-tier AC carriage. It is estimated to be a profitable initiative as AC-3 has largely been financially beneficial for the Indian Railways. The overall expenditure in the construction of an economy AC class coach will be Rs 3 crore, in comparison to Rs 2.8 crore that is required to make the AC-3 coach.