Getting a seat in one of the world’s most-overcrowded railway service could become a little easy for the aam aadmi or commoners as a general coach will be added to every train having unreserved coaches.
At an average of 100 seats in one general coach in 10,000 trains, this decision will create one million additional low-cost seats for budget passengers.
The government has cleared the proposal for an extra coach and an announcement is expected when the Railway Budget is presented on February 25.
The move is inspired by Jan Sangh ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay’s concept of Antyodaya, uplift of the last man in society, a source told Hindustan Times on Monday.
The nation’s biggest transporter is considering naming the additional coach after either Antyodaya or Upadhyay.
Besides premium-class Shatabdi, Rajdhani and Duronto services, the railways run close to 13,000 passenger trains, every day transporting about 2.7 million people that is more than Qatar’s population.
The majority of passengers in the budget segment travel in congested bogies in inhuman condition, especially during crush seasons such as festivals and summer vacations.
“Those who fly or travel in air-conditioned trains can opt for other modes of travel during an emergency. The poor have little choice. The decision (for an extra coach) creates options for them and eases congestion in coaches,” an official said.
The railways decided that all the mail and express trains introduced after 2007-08 shall have at least six general class coaches.
The idea initially faced objections because it would further strain railway finances. The railways subsidises passenger operations through profit from freight.
But railway minister Suresh Prabhu overruled the objections.
The railways usually operates special trains to clear extra rush of passengers during festive seasons, vacations and religious congregations such as the Kumbh Mela. It sometimes adds additional coaches to trains for creating extra space. The railways operated 34,560 trips of special trains in 2014-15.