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‘AC Economy’ class of railway travel ready for rollout

Duronto trains under Western Railway and other trains originating from several parts of the country will be sporting these new AC-Economy coaches - which have 83 berths instead of 72, as in the AC-III tier coaches.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi |
Updated: July 20, 2021 7:08:20 am
The coach also has an improved and modular design of seats and berths, foldable snack tables in both bays. (Express Photo)

The much-awaited air-conditioned “Economy”, a new class of train travel in India, is ready for rollout. As many as 27 coaches designed specifically for the class are ready and have been distributed among various zonal railways for use.

Duronto trains under Western Railway and other trains originating from several parts of the country will be sporting these new AC-Economy coaches – which have 83 berths instead of 72, as in the AC-III tier coaches.

The Railway Board is in the process of deciding fares for these coaches in comparison with the AC-III tier, currently the entry-level AC travel option for long-distance trains.

One school of thought within the Railways is that the fare should be kept within reach of those who ordinarily buy non-AC ‘Sleeper’ tickets. There is another line of argument that favours keeping the fares as close to the AC-III tier as possible. The matter has been hanging on this since May, officials said. The ministry, it is learnt, will take a formal decision on pricing soon.

The Railway Board is in the process of deciding fares for these coaches in comparison with the AC-III tier, currently the entry-level AC travel option for long-distance trains. (Express Photo)

By design, this class is supposed to be an upgrade from the non-AC Sleeper and almost on a par with AC-III tier, with an extra bay added to account for the additional berths.

The Indian Express had last year reported the government’s plans for affordable AC travel that led to the concept. Sources said the next meeting of the Railway Board will deliberate on the fare aspect. Meanwhile, messages have been circulated internally to name this new class as ‘3E’ in reservation paperwork.

The ‘AC Economy’ class with more berths was a failure over a decade ago in the Garib Rath trains as it had merely inserted more middle berths just to maximize occupancy leading to passenger discomfort and complaints. However, this time, the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, has completely redesigned the coach stepping away from the design imprint of the existing AC coaches.

The design of the coach includes redesigning the AC ducting to provide individual vents for each berth. The coach also has an improved and modular design of seats and berths, foldable snack tables in both longitudinal and transverse bays, injury free spaces and holders for water bottles, mobile phones and magazines.

Individual reading lights and mobile charging points are provided for each berth in addition to the standard sockets.

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