Eighteen months after it was announced by the then Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and nearly nine months after the deadline to introduce it,the Super AC coaches in the Indian trains remain a distant dream.
It has been months since the Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala supplied 40 shells to the upcoming RCF at Rae Bareli,to be fitted as Super AC Coaches , the factorys Public Relations Officer,Virender Vij,said. However,the coaches are yet to hit the tracks, he added.
Earlier,the Railway Ministry had directed the RCF Kapurthala to manufacture 25 new Super AC coaches while the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai was told to retrofit 25 existing AC 2-tier coaches to convert them into Super AC class.
The ministrys deadline for introducing these Super AC coaches,to be placed in between the existing AC 1 and AC 2-tier coaches,was October 2011.
The project awarded to Kapurthala unit was later shifted to the factory in Rae Bareli incidentally UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhis constituency. Sources claim that the project was shifted as the Congress led government wanted to award some work to factory,which had earlier courted controversy after complaints about poor compensation against land acquisition had triggered an ugly row between the then BSP government led by Mayawati and Congress in May 2011. The factory is yet to be thrown open officially.
While Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) RCF,Rae Bareli,Alok Johri,who sits in Delhi,could not be contacted,sources in his office said that the work on the Super AC is yet to start owing to some limitations pertaining to procurement of the materials to used. In fact,they said,work on the project may be delayed by another couple of months.
The factorys deputy chief mechanical engineer,Vivek Acharya,said,We have started manufacturing AC coaches. Work on Super AC Coaches will begin soon.
Notably the conceptual design for the Super AC coach with 44 berths has already been finalised and 25 such coaches were to be manufactured for Rajdhani trains in the first phase. At present the Rajdhani express has 55 berths in AC 2 and 72 in AC 3-tier coaches.