The Railways is likely to soon have an extra reserved coach for women and differently-abled passengers in its premier sections of trains like Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi.
Railway authorities have planned to have an upgraded power car for these trains which have coaches manufactured by a German company, Link Hofmann Bosch or LHB.
Currently, LHB trains have two coaches which power the air-conditioning unit and electric supply of the entire train. The upgraded power car will require only one coach instead of two. It will, therefore, free up the other which will be reserved for women and for the physically challenged, said railway authorities. An official said that if the new non-AC coach is attached to a fully air-conditioned train, the fare for it will be lesser.
All Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains currently run on LHB trains. The reason that the LHB coaches have two power cars is that if one fails, the other serves as a back-up. In the upgraded system, the train will have one one power coach while the back-up system will be fitted in the “underslung”, said a railway official. That is the part beneath the footboard of the train.
A senior railway official said that the Integral Coach Factory, which now manufactures trains for the railways, has made two prototypes of trains with the power car with all the equipment in the underslung. Trains for the Indian Railwaysare made by LBH and by the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai. Trains made by the former company can accommodate 72 passengers while those made by the latter can carry 64.
Railway minister Piyush Goyal had announced in the Parliament in January this year that the government would replace conventional coaches with modern LHB coaches. Atul Desai, president of the Fellowship of the Physically Handicapped, lauded the move. “It will be worth it only if all facilities are conducive to the handicapped and the wheelchair-bound,” said Desai.
“There’s nothing new in this unless they make it disabled-friendly vis-à-vis the toilet and seating arrangement,” said Nilesh Singit, a disability activist. “Also, they should offer some concession on fare. If not, I may as well travel by plane,” Singit added.