Railways to likely introduce special trains for lower income groups next year
The Indian Railways is planning to introduce trains for lower income groups, mainly manual labourers. “These are not special but permanent trains that are aimed to help the labour class passengers travel with ease,” a senior government official said. “The service is expected to operate from next year,” the official added.
Officials said the trains with Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches will have both sleeper and general class services. “These trains will be completely non-air conditioned,” the official clarified.
A second official said that the national transporter had conducted a study to identify the routes which saw passengers from the lowest income groups, reports Neha Tripathi for HT. They were also noted to have an increasing number of waiting list passengers. “Based on this exercise, trains in Bihar, Chattisgarh, Guwahati, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Assam were learnt to have the majority of lowest income group travellers who have been finalised to see an increased number of services,” he said.
“The Indian Railways has commenced the work on introducing these exclusive services for which they have added around 20,000km of new tracks in the last nine months,” the second official said. However, the national transporter is yet to name them.
“Most of the unskilled workers, artisans, labourers, job seekers travel to metros and other big cities from various states. Currently, these passengers travel in general coaches attached to Mail/ Express trains that are loaded with double, if not less, number of passengers. Introduction of these trains will only provide convenience to them,” a railway board official said. “The ticket costs would remain the same. However, a decision in this regard is yet to be made,” the official added.
These migrant special trains will have 22 to 26 coaches and will be included in the regular time table, allowing passengers to be able to make advance reservations.
It has also been decided to have only two types of coaches (out of the total 28 types) in the network in the next five to seven years. “The railways will have only LHB and Vande Bharat coaches in the coming five years. The phasing out of the Integrated Coach Factory (ICF) will be done within the next three years,” the official said, adding that the other coaches will be phased out at the end of their life or will be converted for other use.