Media reports claimed that top officials of Indian Railways have been discussing to replace all the second class compartments in express and superfast trains with AC coaches within the next five-six years.
Taking the first step on Sunday, July 27, the Southern Railways replaced S-2 sleeper class coach of the Ernakulam junction-Nizamuddin Mangala Express (train no 12617) with AC 3-tier coach which has marked as B-4.
The train, which had 11 sleeper coaches, 3 AC three-tier coaches and 2 AC two-tier coaches, now has 10 sleeper coaches, 4 three-tier AC coaches and 2 AC two-tier coaches.
An officer of the office of Ernakulam railway area manager was quoted as saying, "In effect, the train lost 72 non-AC sleeper berths, preferred by middleclass passengers. Those passengers who had been allotted berths in S-2 compartments were provided space in tatkal quotas on Sunday."
Continuing his statement, the official also added, "However, those who have booked tickets for families will have to travel in separate compartments. We will try to arrange them space in the same compartment though."
According to reports, sleeper coaches of two more train running through the state have also been replaced with AC coaches. Times of India report stated that the S-7 sleeper class coach of the Chennai Egmore-Mangalore Central Express (train no.16859) was replaced with an AC chair car coach (marked as D-4) from Sunday, while the S-9 sleeper class coach of Mangalore Central-Chennai Egmore Express (train no 16860) would be replaced with a AC chair car coach (marked as D-4) with effect from Tuesday.
A senior officer from the Palakkad railway division was quoted as saying, "The railway board has brought down the number of second class sleeper coaches being manufactured. At the same time, they are increasing the manufacture of AC coaches. The Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram railway divisions are not sanctioned any new second class sleeper coaches. And we have been directed to replace those compartments with three-tier AC coaches one-by-one."
He also added, "This would not only ensure better travel facilities, but also give heavy financial benefit for the Railway Board. The present sleeper coaches would then be used in the passenger trains, removing middle berths."
The latest decision of the railways proved that achche din (good days) may not come for many people in the country. While a few people in the country can afford to avail such luxurious journey through train, most of the Indians struggle to afford second class tickets. And the latest move by the railways would add financial burden for them.