New Delhi: The Indian Railways new AC-III tier compartment will be rolled out middle of November with a slew of changes, including a signature colour scheme, CCTV cameras in the aisles, and a tea and coffee vending machine in each coach. The new features include:
A GPS-based passenger information system above each door, a fire-and-smoke detector, and automatic room-freshener dispensers.
An airline-like light bar with numbers indicating upper, lower and middle berths, which will replace the stencilled numbering on the walls.
Gel coating in the toilet walls to make them “graffiti proof”. Curtains for side berths as well as in the aisles, which are currently available in higher classes only.
The new coaches will initially be deployed on the all-AC-III tier Humsafar service, which is tentatively scheduled to start operating between Delhi and Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. The Rail Coach Factory in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh has designed the service’s new coaches to be a part of four trains now a set of coaches for a fifth train is in production and will be rolled out later.
In the fifth train, the small gap in the middle of the side lower berth between the two lowered backrests — has been removed, which had challenged coach designers for decades.
A solution has been found by tucking a separate thin berth sideways between the wall and the side-lower seats. Its edge works as a handrest until the passenger pulls it up, lays it over the two seats to become a separate “gapless” berth.
“Earlier, the thinking was that extra or new features could be added only in higher classes. But this is reimagining an existing class, without giving it a luxury tag,” said the official.
The last time the AC-III tier, the most popular class of train travel in India, underwent a makeover was to come out with a new class called AC-III Economy for Garib Rath during Lalu Prasad’s time as rail minister. The AC-III Economy class became unpopular because of the space constraint created by an extra middle berth between the side upper and lower berths. The Railways has since reversed that design change.