First touted as the ultimate in Rail travel, luxury ‘Anubhuti’ coach project falls by the wayside on Indian Railways!
Mumbai: The luxury ‘Anubhuti’ coach project, first announced by then Railway Minister PK Bansal in his February 26, 2013 railway budget under the UPA dispensation, is becoming a fine example of the railways’ ‘raat gayi, baat gayi’ approach every time ministers and governments change.
First touted as the ultimate in Indian Railway travel — hence the name Anubhuti or experience —this coach is yet to be built over three and half years later. Since the day Bansal announced it, not a single coach has been built for operations, a fact confirmed to DNA by the official spokespersons of Northern Railway, Rail Coach Factory-Kapurthala and the Integral Coach Factory-Chennai.
Aiming high with the Anubhuti coach, the railways had laid down its specifications on October 1, 2013 and one of the prime criteria that the railways laid down was that “the design made by the Consultancy Agency for passenger coaches should have been implemented and running in developed countries at least for two variants and 50 coaches.”
The railways even gave potential bidders a list of 42 developed countries led by Norway followed by Australia, New Zealand, United States, Ireland and rounded up by Barbados at number 42. Bansal, in interviews immediately after the budget in 2013, had said that the fares of the Anubhuti tier would be about one and a half times that of the First AC fare of Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains.
Earlier on June 6, 2013, a Production Planning and Review meeting held at the Railway Board decided, as per the minutes of the meeting, that the “Railway Coach Factory (RCF) Kapurthala will manufacture two Anubhuti coaches and supply 10 shells to Integral Coach Factory – Chennai and two shells to Northern Railway for Anubhuti coaches.”
On January 1, 2014, a letter written by the mechanical directorate of the railway ministry asked RCF-Kapurthala to allot one shell to Northern Railway which the latter would give to its Jagadhri Workshop in Haryana to convert into an Anubhuti coach. As it turns out, this too didn’t end up in anything substantial.
An RTI sent to ICF-Chennai revealed that the revised Coach Production Program, finalised on October 25 this year, has stated that for the current fiscal (2016-17) ICF would make 10 Anubhuti coaches for the current year at a cost of Rs 1.8 crore each. It would also make 8 shells for Anubhuti coaches at a cost of Rs 1 crore each. The total cost of the project would be Rs 26 crore.
However some of officials said they are keeping their fingers crossed. “All coach production units like the ICF, RCF and the Modern Coach Factory in Raebareli are working overtime to ensure more LHB coaches can be rolled out. In such a situation, the Anubhuti coaches might not come into operation this year as well,” one official said.