S. Vijay Kumar
MADURAI: New design high-capacity coaches, which will bring down the fares by a maximum of eight per cent in air-conditioned three-tier/chair car coaches and four per cent in sleeper class coaches, are likely to be introduced on Southern Railway’s core routes soon.
The hi-tech coaches, announced in the budget by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, are being made by the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, and the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai.
While the first few rakes will be rolled out in the northern sector, senior officials hope popular trains such as the Madurai-Chennai Pandiyan and the Coimbatore-Chennai Cheran Expresses will also have them by the end of this fiscal.
The new design will increase the number of seats in the AC chair car from 70 to 102, and the number of berths in AC three-tier coaches from 64 to 81. The capacity of the sleeper class coaches will increase by 12 berths and the capacity of a train of such coaches will go up by roughly 9 per cent, a senior official said.
The fare will come down by eight per cent during the off-peak season (January 15 to April 15 and July 15 to September 15). However, the cut in the fare for sleeper class coaches will remain at four per cent during all seasons.
“Since the capacity of the coaches has been increased, the Railways has extended the benefit to passengers as a goodwill gesture. The design of the coaches will be such that the increase in the number of berths will not cause any congestion. The room space will be the same as in the existing coaches,” the official said.
Madurai Additional Divisional Railway Manager M. Suyambulingam said the high-capacity coaches were likely to be introduced on popular trains between Madurai and Chennai in the near future.