An acute shortage of coaches is compounding the mad rush for train berths, it has been revealed.
Several trains, including the elite Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto are carrying coaches much lower than their permissible load, owing a huge shortfall of coaches, documents accessed by the Hindustan Times show.
The lack of coaches has added to the scam being run by touts, allegedly in collusion with some rail booking officials to corner the maximum tatkal tickets.
Therefore, instead of adding extra coaches to trains to clear the rush, the Northern Railway is not being able to carry the normal load in trains originating and bound for Delhi.Northern Railway is short of 450 general non air-conditioned coaches and over 200 air-conditioned coaches. Rajdhani, Shatabdi, Duronto and Garib Rath express trains are being run two to four coaches shorter than the permissible load.
While as many as 38 Rajdhanis are running with 78 coaches less than the permissible limit, 20 Shatabdis are running with 40 coaches less than the maximum load allowed. The situation is no different for Duronto trains, which are running with a shortfall of 60 coaches than the maximum load allowed. In other trains also, there's a shortage of AC coaches.
For fully air-conditioned trains, the permissible load allowed is between 18-20 coaches, whereas for other trains it is 24 coaches.
This lack of coaches means that around 140 passengers (per train) are deprived of confirmed tickets. Each general coach (non-AC and non-sleeper) accommodates approximately over 100 passengers (conservative figure), which means that the shortage of 450 such coaches deprive 45,000 passengers of seats.
"Trains such as Delhi-Patna Rajender Nagar Rajdhani Express have been running with 15 coaches, which also include a engine, two generator coaches and one pantry, whereas the normal limit varies from 18 to 20 coaches," said a senior railway official, requesting anonymity.
"The rail coach factories fail to produce the adequate number of coaches as new trains are announced every year. And the number of sick coaches also keep piling up," the officer added.
The number of coaches in fully air-conditioned trains is also reduced in summer, as train generators fail to handle the load of over 14 coaches.
However, the railway authorities remain in denial and claimed that they had adequate coaches to meet the passenger demand.
"The existing fleet of over 60,000 passenger coaches is capable of meeting the demands. It is true that the passenger demand is increasing by every year. Hence Indian Railway has also stepped up induction of new coaches," said an official spokesperson for the ministry of railways.