Indian train travel will soon be available in air-conditioned ‘Economy’ cars. Currently, 27 coaches designed specifically for the class have been distributed among various railway zones. Duronto trains under Western Railway and other trains originating from different parts of the country will be using these new AC-Economy coaches, which have 83 berths instead of 72, as in the older AC-III coaches.
Currently, the Railway Board is deciding fares for these coaches in comparison with the AC-III tier, which is the entry-level AC option for long-distance trains. Railways experts have suggested, among other things, keeping the fares affordable for those who buy non-AC ‘Sleeper’ tickets. Another argument favors keeping the fares as close to the AC-III tier as possible. Apparently, officials have been waiting on this issue since May. According to reports, the ministry will soon take a formal decision on pricing.
Train fares for these coaches will be decided by the Railway Board after comparisons with AC-III, the entry-level AC class on long-distance trains. This class is designed to be an upgrade from the non-AC Sleeper and almost at par with the AC-III tier, with an extra bay to accommodate the extra berths. Government plans for affordable air travel led to the concept, according to a report last year. Railway Board members are expected to discuss fares at the next meeting. The new class has not yet been formally classified as 3E, but messages have been circulated internally.
In the Garib Rath trains, the ‘AC Economy’ class with additional berths was a failure over a decade ago because it simply inserted more middle berths just to maximize occupancy, causing passenger discomfort and complaints. This time however, the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, has completely redesigned the coach, breaking away from the design of the existing AC coaches.
As part of the coach’s design, the AC ducts have been redesigned to provide individual vents for each berth. The coach has a 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. Additionally to the standard sockets, each berth has a reading light and a mobile charging point.