India's first air-conditioned double-decker train is expected to be launched on the Howrah-Dhanbad sector before the Diwali celebrations.
While a few old double-decker coaches are still operational on the Mumbai-Surat route currently, the new coaches that are built with a “crashworthy design” will also have state-of-the-art facilities for passenger comfort.
Developed at the Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala, eight double-decker coaches were recently brought to Howrah for conducting trial runs before the official flagging-off ceremony.
People in West Bengal had the experience of travelling in double-decker coaches when two such coaches ran between Howrah and industrial-township Durgapur as part of the Black Diamond Express.
The coaches, however, were decommissioned in the early 1980s as passengers complained of suffocation and uneasiness.
“While those travelling in the upper deck felt hot and suffocated, those travelling in the lower deck suffered from inhaling dust entering through the lower deck windows situated almost at the ground level,” a senior railway official told The Hindu on Friday.
The new coaches – built according to Eurofoma design – will accommodate 128 passengers each and can run at a maximum speed of 160 kmph due to the presence of ‘air-springs' in their under-carriages.
As the newly arrived coaches are painted in a combination of red and yellow, which neither Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee nor the railway officials liked, the coaches are expected to undergo a ‘green' makeover before its maiden journey.
The coaches with a height of 4,366 mm will be higher than the conventional LHB coaches whose height is around 3,950 mm.
The increase in height, however, can pose problems both in connection with the overhead electric wires and the height of station platforms. Incidentally, scratches have been discovered on the lower portion of two of the new coaches. They are believed to have been caused after grazing a platform.
“We are looking into the factors. While the overhead electric wiring has been modified at places, the second issue is expected to be sorted out soon,” the official said.