CHENNAI: After coming under heavy criticism for running premier trains with the two decades old Air conditioned coaches, Indian Railways has decided to fully refurbish all the AC coaches once in every six years.
“All categories of AC coaches including two-tier AC, three-tier AC, first class and chair car will be refurbished during the sixth year from the day of induction. As per the plan, both old ICF coaches and modern Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches will be covered,” said a senior railway official from Southern railway referring the recent railway board order.
The railways has capped the maximum budget for refurbishments at Rs. 10 lakhs per coach. The railway was forced to measure as zonal railways flooded with the complaints over the poor condition of AC coaches in daily and premier trains. Particularly, the introduction of premium tatkal quota in 2016, which increases the fare as the demand rises, train ticket fares touched the fares of flight tickets.
However, travel comfort remains an exception. S Ganesh, rail fan based in Coimbatore rued that both Kovai Express and Coimbatore Intercity Express run with the chair car coaches which are above 20 years old.
“The pushback buttons often go non-functional. The interiors look dirty and unclean. While the normal ticket fare was over Rs. 670, during tatkal we pay about Rs. 850, but with no travel comfort. Railway should upgrade chair car coaches in all intercity express,” he added.
According to official sources, southern railway maintains about 1090 AC coaches in six divisions, out of which more than 400 coaches are above ten-year-old coaches. “Coaches which are above six years old being identified for up-gradation during the first phase. Already modern coaches inducted in Chennai – Mysuru Shatabdi Express. The old ICF coaches in highly demanded daily trains would be given priority,” added official sources.
The ICF coaches put into periodic overhauling for every 18 months, while LHB coaches undergo maintenance for every 24 months. “The work of refurbishment shall be done along with the POH and within the time allowed for maintenance,” said the railway board order.
- Railway board ordered that during 6th year along with Periodic overhauling, AC coaches should be refurbished.
- Rs.Ten lakhs budget capped per coach* Southern railway maintains about 1090 Air conditioned coaches.
- More than 400 coaches are above 10 year old.
- AC chair car coaches in intercity trains were in poor condition.
- Minimum POH duration for ICF coach – 18 months, LHB – 24 months.