Nagpur (NGP): In a move that will benefit thousands of short distance passengers, the Railway Board has allowed general managers to identify specific trains on specific sections and permit redesignation of Sleeper class coaches as general coaches during daytime.
Railway officials said dereserving sleeper class coaches as general class coaches would benefit passengers taking short distance day journeys specially those commuting between cities.
At present, such travellers either have to travel in general compartment or board sleeper coaches illegally. “Now such travel will be legalized by specifying certain coaches for general passengers,” senior railway officials said. The move follows lack of demand for sleeper class accommodation in identified trains/sections as observed over a period of time from PRS data.
Till now powers to declare any Sleeper coach in identified trains as unreserved one rested with the Railway Board. These have now been delegated to the general managers. “In Nagpur division of South East Central Railway (SECR), a couple of trains like Gondia-Kolhapur Maharashtra Express and Nagpur-Raipur Intercity have certain coaches earmarked for general passengers where no extra charge is levied. Passengers travelling in other than prescribed coaches have to pay the difference,” said divisional commercial manager (DCM) Tanmay Mukhopadhyay.
“We have sent a similar proposal to the headquarters to dereserve some coaches from Gondia-Nagpur journey in Vidarbha Express,” Mukhopadhyay added.
The railway officials have been told to identify sleeper class coaches running empty or in locked condition due to insufficient demand. Second class fares will be charged for travel in such coaches.
“In case of demand, some of these coaches can also be earmarked as reserved second class coaches (2S). It shall be ensured that reserved sleeper class passengers will not be booked in such coaches in the identified trains/sections,” they said.
General secretary of Bharatiya Yatri Kendra (BYK) Basant Shukla slammed the Railway Board move. “Taking advantage of the new norm, unreserved passengers will try to grab unprescribed coaches as well. The worst part is that railways doesn’t have requisite ticket checking staff to monitor the situation,” Shukla said.
The general managers can identify specific trains in specific sections and permit redesignation of sleeper class coaches (GSCN) as general coaches (GS) on experimental basis initially for a period of six months. Based on response, GMs can extend the same on a regular basis if there is increase in passenger bookings/earnings for the sections/train.