The Railways have finally relented.
From Thursday, the highly uncomfortable air-conditioned three-tier economy coaches will be removed from the premier Duronto trains that run between Kolkata and Delhi.
The coaches packed in more people than the regular AC three-tier with the addition of a middle berth between the side-upper and lower berths, causing inconvenience to not only those who are allotted the side middle berths, but also others.
The Railways had already scrapped this concept from all trains in the past few years but they re-introduced it for the Duronto, which is a Rajdhani-like train, but faster.
Hindustan Times highlighted passenger complaints from the Duronto and criticised the railways decision in two reports on September 22 and 26.
The Railway Board, in a circular issued by its Director-Passenger Marketing, has announced that not only will it remove the notorious coaches but also upgrade all AC-Economy passengers who have already booked tickets, to AC-3 tier free of cost.
“We agree that the criticism was fair,” said a senior railway official who did not wish to be named. “There is nothing wrong in rolling back a decision if it’s felt that it can be replaced with a better decision.”
This doomed concept was started by Rail Minister Mamata Banerjee’s predecessor Lalu Prasad on an overdrive to play the ‘volumes game’ and maximize profits.
But in this train the fare is equal to that of non-AC Sleeper class — just about Rs 600 between Mumbai and Delhi. But the Duronto’s AC Economy charged a bit more than Rs 1,300, about Rs 55 cheaper than regular AC-III tier.