Train passengers between the Capital and Varanasi, now better known as the Prime Minister’s constituency, will be the first to enjoy what is being touted as the first major upgrade in facilities and design in a passenger train in India.
Narendra Modi flagged off the 18-coach “Mahamana Express”, which will run at top speed covering the distance between the two cities thrice a week via Lucknow in 14 hours. The name Mahamana, is after social activist Madanmohan Malviya, co-founder of the Benaras Hindu University and popularly called Mahamana or a “great human being”. The name was chosen by Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha, an alumnus of the BHU.
For the refreshed interiors loaded with more ease of use, Railways has decided to charge 15 per cent more than the usual fare for Mahamana Express. The approval to jack up the fare for this train was received from the PMO before the flagging off was organised. Interestingly, Railways on Friday also decided to tweak the decision a bit and keep the second-class (unreserved) better known as the General class tickets out of the purview of the hike because unlike the upper classes, it would not be able to guarantee an upgraded travelling experience to the General class passengers because there is no rule to stop overcrowding here. “If we could restrict the number of passengers in the General compartment to the designated 72, we could have charged more here too, but that cannot be done, so it wouldnt have been fair,” said a senior Railway Board official. Another section of the ministry said the decision to spare the lowest class of a hike was also taken “at the top most level”.
Much has been written about the improved facilities. This project, to redesign the interiors of the passengers coaches in Indian Railways, was started in 2011. The Carriage Rehabilitation Workshop of the Railways in Bhopal has finalised the “model rake” which was converted into this train. Production of more such rakes is far away but at least this one train will boast of the new features for now.
Work of development of model rakes with enhanced amenities and improved interiors for Rs 31.5 cr will ultimate see 111 coaches ( 87 non AC coaches, 17 coaches for AC 3 tier, five for AC 2 tier and one each for AC 1 tier and chair car coaches) rolling out in 2016-17. Internally, they are also code-named “World Class interiors”
About 87 coaches are planned to be turned out in 2016-17 under the existing contract, which means about three trains. The rake on display is called a model rake because this is the design that will be replicated with changes and tweaks, if any. These are refurbished coaches, which means ordinary existing coaches have been taken and these changes made in them, which is the job of the workshop in Bhopal.
Apart from a new colour scheme, some of the features are:
Toilet: Bigger mirror, platform washbasin, controlled discharged water tap, odour control system, exhaust fan, LED lights, dustbin inside the toilet
Ladder: Ergonomically designed Ladders for climbing up to upper berths provided in all coaches.
Side berths: Snack tables provided for side berth passengers also with innovative design side lower berth arrangement.
Windows: Windows with powered venetian blind and roller blind instead of conventional curtains.
LED: LED based berth indicators for reserved coaches, and all other illumination
Power: More charging points for passengers
Safety: Fire extinguisher in all coaches
Chimney: electrically operated chimney in Pantry Car
Average cost of upgrade of a Non AC coach is approximately 16 lakhs and for AC coach is approx. 22 lakhs. Taking price escalation into account present addition-Your data has been truncated.