NEW DELHI: There is a major change in plans for Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s UDAY brand of trains — the overnight air-conditioned double-decker trains that ply between major cities. Instead of building a new rake, the Railways now plans to modify existing double-decker coaches to make them suitable for overnight journeys. Speaking on the proposed development, the ministry’s spokesperson Anil Saxena confirmed the development. “The Uday trains are currently being modified to add new features. The first rake is expected by July 2017,” said Saxena.
A senior Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala (RCF) official told that there is no plan to make manufacture an Uday train for the current financial year ending March 31. He, however, refused to comment on whether the modifications to the air-conditioned, double-decker coaches would reduce its capacity. The existing AC double-decker coaches can accommodate 120 passengers.
A section of railway officials were always apprehensive about Prabhu’s Uday plan. Their main contention was that the three routes announced for the overnight Uday trains — between Bandra and Jamnagar, Vishakhapatnam and Vijayawada, and Coimbatore and Bengaluru — have above 10-hour journeys. The plan has tied the Railways’ design team in knots. Double-decker coaches at 4,366 mm are a full 325 mm (more than a foot) taller than conventional trains, which have a height of 4,039 mm.This makes operating a double-decker train difficult on most routes.
One of the solutions — to get the seats to incline to a semi-sleeper position like in international flights — could reduce the capacity of these double-decker coaches from the current 120 seats to anywhere between 75 to 90 seats. This would make running a conventional three AC coach, with 72 passengers each, a better option as far as operations and energy efficiency is concerned, officials said.