UDAY Express – or the Utkrisht Double-Decker Air-conditioned Yatri – train is all set to roll out in the coming months. Equipped with food and tea/coffee vending machines and on-board entertainment facilities, the UDAY Express has been envisioned as a train for overnight business travellers. Announced by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu during his rail budget speech in 2016, UDAY has been delayed because the Railway Board was finalising on its design and features.
“We will introduce overnight double-decker, Utkrisht DoubleDecker Air-conditioned Yatri (UDAY) Express on the busiest routes, which has the potential to increase carrying capacity by almost 40%,” Prabhu had proposed back then. Humsafar Express, Tejas Express, Antyodaya Express and Deen Dayalu coaches – all the other new branded trains and coaches announced in 2016 have already been introduced.
For the first UDAY Express, the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) is helping in modifying an existing double-decker train rake. The chair car LHB coaches will be modified on several fronts to ensure better passenger comforts – a possible attempt to compete with overnight luxury buses. “One rake consisting of around 15-20 coaches will be modified. This is a retro-fitment project. Each coach will have automatic food and coffee/tea vending machines,” a railway official involved in the project told FE Online. This is the first time that Indian Railways is looking to install food vending machines in trains. IRCTC already has automatic food vending machines on a few railway stations.
For the entertainment of passengers, LCD screens with blue-tooth connectivity will be installed in the train as well. “The total number of screens per coach are yet to be decided. The screens will hang from the coach ceiling and if the passenger desires he/she can listen in using bluetooth/wi-fi ear phones that Railways will provide. The screens will be fitted in a way that all passengers can enjoy the onboard entertainment,” the official said.
Additionally, Indian Railways has planned some internal panel improvements and a vinyl wrapped exterior for the UDAY Express. The anti-graffiti exterior would help Indian Railways keep the train clean, and can easily be replaced when the need arises. The colour scheme of the exterior has not yet been decided by the Railway Board. The double-decker trains already boast of modular toilets and eventually, Railways plans to modify the design in order to introduce bio-toilets.
Double-decker trains have a seating capacity of 120 per coach (50 for upper deck, 48 for lower deck and 22 on the ends) as compared to Shatabdis which can seat up to 78. Recently, Prabhu said that UDAY Express between Coimbatore and Bengaluru will start plying by the end of September. Two other routes that have been identified for the new train service are: Mumbai Bandra Terminus to Jamnagar and Visakhapatnam to Vijayawada.