Rollout of super luxury coaches unlikely this year

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SummaryWhile the earlier plan was to produce 10 such coaches and fit each of them in a Shatabdi Express.

The introduction of an uber luxury train coaches “Anubhuti” that became the talking point of this year’s Rail Budget seems to have been put in the backburner.

Seven months since its announcement, the railways has failed to finalise the design of the coach that was planned to have state-of-the-art facilities like wi-fi network and premium class seats.

While the earlier plan was to produce 10 such coaches and fit each of them in a Shatabdi Express to gauge the response of the passengers, railways is now struggling to roll out a single coach by the end of the current financial year.

The railways will not officially admit that the project is in the doldrums, but the status of the work on its prototype at Bhopal’s coach rehabilitation workshop reveals it all.

A top ministry official, who visited the workshop last month to take stock of the work there, found that the designing is far from attaining “standardisation” of parts and fixtures. In other words, it means that the railways has not been able to come up with design of the interior parts that could be replaced immediately during exigencies. “We cannot have a design wherein the parts are so unique that we cannot replace them immediately if they get damaged while in use. So standardisation is required, which we have instructed,” said the top official.

Instead, the workshop is involved in the standard design upgrade of all kinds of coaches which is being referred to as the “precursor to Anubhuti”.

With the exit of Pawan Kumar Bansal, the minister who presented the budget, from Rail Bhavan any thrust on an idea like Anubhuti is considered unnecessary, especially at a time when the railways is grappling with shortage of standard rolling stock.

Adding to it, the approaching elections have given a sense of an urgency to roll out new pairs of train that were announced in this year’s budget.

Of the 94-odd new trains announced in the budget, 28 have started plying. It is unlikely that rest trains in the list could make it to the tracks by the end of March 2014.

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