Pulling in: The all-new AC 3-tier coach

At least 10 design innovations, coach ready to roll out this month

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | Rae Bareli | Updated: May 3, 2017 10:10 am
Modified ladders with comfortable footrests; CCTV cameras and tea-coffee vending machines in each coach. (Source: Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

* USB charging ports and reading lights for all berths.

* Ladders with comfortable footrests, additional handles for easier access to the top berth.

* Separate urinals for men in the toilets; foldable nappy-changing tables for babies.

* A GPS-enabled screen in each coach to display the train’s location.

With these and a few other changes, the AC 3-tier coach — the country’s favourite mode of travel for long-distance train journeys — has got a major makeover. “Ever since the AC 3-tier first rolled out in India, we have not been able to get rid of the footprint of the old design. Whatever little changes were made inside, the look and feel as well as the user experience remained more or less the same. Our mandate was to change all that and make from scratch,” said M K Gupta, General Manager of the Modern Coach Factory workshop in Rae Bareli, giving The Indian Express an exclusive preview of the new coach.

(Source: Express photo by Vishal Srivastav) train, train coaches, railways train, railways train coaches, ac 2 tier coaches, indian railways, indian railways coaches, railways bookings, india news Railway workers busy to make new coach. (Source: Express photo by Vishal Srivastav) train, train coaches, railways train, railways train coaches, ac 2 tier coaches, indian railways, indian railways coaches, railways bookings, india news (Source: Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

The first coach is currently awaiting the railway ministry’s final nod, before it hits the tracks as the new all-AC-3-tier Humsafar Express to be unveiled later this month. There are at least 10 major and minor design interventions — the AC 3-tier is the only passenger operation in which the Indian Railways makes a profit. As part of the new look, a beige-cream-grey colour scheme has replaced the old signature blue upholstery of the Railways.

train, train coaches, railways train, railways train coaches, ac 2 tier coaches, indian railways, indian railways coaches, railways bookings, india news (Source: Express photo by Vishal Srivastav) train, train coaches, railways train, railways train coaches, ac 2 tier coaches, indian railways, indian railways coaches, railways bookings, india news (Source: Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

Gupta said one of the “hardest design challenges” was re-doing the side-lower berths to make them more comfortable. Currently, the backrests of the two seats facing each other have to be lowered to convert it into a berth. But more often than not, the alignment of the two backrests don’t match, making the berth uncomfortable. In the new coach, this problem has been solved by placing a thin, cushioned plank alongside the side-lower seats. After lowering the backrests, the passenger will have to slide the plank up to place it on top of the joined backrests for it to become a flat berth.

train, train coaches, railways train, railways train coaches, ac 2 tier coaches, indian railways, indian railways coaches, railways bookings, india news (Source: Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

“This was one of the three hardest design challenges. How light the second plank should be, how should it be fitted in channels so that it slides up effortlessly and rests on top of the backrests — these were the tricky parts,” said Gupta. Then there was the matter of providing charging points for every berth. Keeping the commercial viability in mind, the factory could not tinker with the number of berths — 72. But placing three-pin power sockets in the limited space available was not an option. So they went for USB ports. For every cabin of eight berths, there are two plug points and six USB ports.

train, train coaches, railways train, railways train coaches, ac 2 tier coaches, indian railways, indian railways coaches, railways bookings, india news (Source: Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

“In trains, we have seen that people have a tendency to use their phones while they are being charged. That’s why we had to go for special capacitors for the ports so that they don’t heat up, or else it would have been a safety hazard,” said Anoop Kumar, Chief Design Engineer. The ladder to the top berth has also undergone modifications to provide more secure grip, and each berth has been provided a reading light. For the toilets, some inputs from a student of the National Institute of Design have been incorporated. The floor is made of a material which does not soil easily and the walls are graffiti resistant. The steel mug chained to a pipe has been replaced by a faucet.

train, train coaches, railways train, railways train coaches, ac 2 tier coaches, indian railways, indian railways coaches, railways bookings, india news (Source: Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

The steel bangle-type water-bottle holder has been replaced by a slick, tiny plastic clip. The table comes with a covered dustbin, and the rack on top now also has a magazine shelf. These apart, the new coach has other add-ons, like CCTV cameras near doors, smoke detector alarms and tea-coffee vending machines. The manufacturing cost of each coach is Rs 2.7 crore, about Rs 20 lakh more than an ordinary AC 3-tier coach. With the all-AC-3-tier Humsafar Express’s fare about 15 per cent higher than Rajdhani fares, Indian Railways wants to create a new class of travel. “For AC 3-tier, this is going to be the new normal in Indian Railways,” said Gupta.

While four rakes of Humsafar Express have already been rolled out without the modifications, Gupta said the “fifth rake will carry the real change this project is meant to showcase.”

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  1. B
    Bimal Parekh
    May 3, 2017 at 7:24 pm
    Little bit of mechanical changes cannot increase the cost of a bogie by 20 .It is unfortunate that RDSO officials never travels by 3tier coaches.The horrible travels will only compel them to update the coaches.Even the size of blanket has to be reduced instead of present size.A trial can be solicited & public opinion will be best feedback instead of organising table meeting.
    Reply
    1. S
      Sonu Malik.
      May 3, 2017 at 6:07 pm
      S
      Reply
      1. S
        Sonu Malik.
        May 3, 2017 at 6:06 pm
        S all AC 2t and convert them to 3t AC.
        Reply
        1. S
          Sonu Malik.
          May 3, 2017 at 6:05 pm
          S the AC 2t. It is uneconomical. Convert all 2t AC to 3t AC.
          Reply
          1. S
            sharma
            May 3, 2017 at 6:01 pm
            THE INDIAN RAILWAY IS DOING ITS PART. WE AS PASSENGERS ALSO NEED TO DO OUR PART. FR EXAMPLE EVERY TIME I TRAVEL FROM COIMBATORE TO CHENNAI I AM PROUD TO SAY THE RAILWAY STATIONS ARE CLEAN. THE TRAINS ARE SPARK WHEN THE TRAIN STARTS ITS JOURNEY HOWEVER WE HAVE DEVELOPED INTO A NATION OF LITTERERS. ALL THE BED SHEET AND PILLOW PACKED IN BROWN PAPER BAGS BUT WE CRUSH AND THROW THE BAGS UNDER NEATH OUR FEET. WE ORDER TEA AND THE EMPTY CUPS ARE SPIL TEA ON THE FLOOR AND THE BROWN PAPER IS USED TO WIPE AND SMEAR THE SPOTLESS FLORS. wHY CAN WE ENSURE THE TEA IS SERVED WITHOUT SPIL AND THE TEA SERVER MOPS THE SPILLED TEA AND THE PAX USE A PLASTIC BAG ( TO BE PROVIDED AT THE START OF THE JOURNEY) TO PUT ALL THE GARBAGE AND PUT IN THE WASTE BIN. ALSO NEED TO TRAIN OUR PAX HOW TO USE TOILETS AD WASH BASINS AND WIPE AFTER USE????
            Reply
            1. R
              Ravinder
              May 3, 2017 at 1:38 pm
              3 tier is uncomfortable for Senior Citizens. Must take up 2 tier coaches in the same manner
              Reply
              1. R
                rishi
                May 3, 2017 at 12:43 pm
                "Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas".......all Indians will gain with travel becoming more comfortable and pleasant. BJP-Led- NDA with such PEOPLE-CENTRIC FOCUS of governance for a billion-plus Nation cretaes another milestone in its leap forward to improve peope's qulaity of life at a pace that also makes up for the lost 65yers of stagnation caused by corrupt-colonial-congress when India moved at a snail's pace while most of the countries worldwide leaped forward in the same duration .
                Reply
                1. N
                  News Hound
                  May 3, 2017 at 2:28 pm
                  Have you gone insane? Railways would have done this anyway even if Modi was not in power. They regularly upgrade their coaches & engines. The only thing visible during BJP rule is the terrible safety record of Railways. It has gone from bad to worse recording India's worst train disaster last year.
                  Reply
                  1. C
                    CrystallBall
                    May 3, 2017 at 2:53 pm
                    Good work by NaMo govt.
                    Reply
                  2. P
                    pal
                    May 3, 2017 at 12:39 pm
                    this is India, everything will vanish in first ride itself....to be honest we do not deserve such privileges
                    Reply
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