New Delhi, Nov 20: In an attempt to make travelling in sleeper coaches convenient, the new Rail Minister, Suresh Prabhu, is planning to replace them with chair cars in short distance trains. The much needed reform if turned a reality would ease the burden off the express trains that run overcrowded in almost every season.
As per an Indian Express report, the Railways Ministry is contemplating to significantly increase the passenger carrying capacity of a few short-distance trains and convert the overnight journey more like a bus travel.
It must be considered as a welcome proposal as accommodation in trains has been a perennial problem due to high population density over main route trains. Even proper management of crowd in sleeper trains has never been aptly addressed for decades.
Sleeper coaches, especially those running on short distance trains, are overcrowded and berths reserved for a particular person is often occupied by local passengers or the fellow passengers whose reservation is not confirmed. The situation becomes from bad to worse during festive season. Overcrowding has its own drawbacks as it poses an extra burden on the train but also on the authorities to look after them and prevent any mishap.
A sleeper coach comprises 72-82 berths, meant for these many people, but one can easily find more than a hundred people travelling in any bogie on any given day. If sleeper coaches in short distance trains, which take no more than 8 to 10 hours in travelling, are replaced by chair cars, more passengers can be accommodated without increasing number of trains.
Besides, it will also generate more revenue for the fund strapped Railway which desperately needs huge investment for its modernisation.
Speaking on probability of implementing the Minister's suggestions, Bibek Debroy, who is heading the panel to revamp Railway Board, told OneIndia, "This kind of proposal can be implemented either on the intercity trains or on the Shatabdi type trains. In fact most of such trains already have chair -cars or alternatively your can do it on the trains which are fast but don't take inordinately long lets have something that up to 15 hours."
Debroy also suggested that AC chair-cars can replace AC thee-tier and AC two-tier coaches of short distance trains. However, this should be done in the trains depending upon the duration which they take in the journey, he further suggested.
The Railway Board is assessing the feasibility of the idea, said the report. It has asked its zonal units to come up with relevant data to help the Board and the Minister to take a formal call in this regard.
Besides, one also hopes that the new Railway Minister, Suresh Prabhu, who is known for delivering extremely best results, will embark key reforms in railways and revamp the state of railway safety and security.