Indian Railways’ new ‘luxury’ chair cars better than Shatabdi Express; but ‘wow’ factor missing

By: and | Updated: January 10, 2017 4:36 PM

FE Online got the chance to exclusively review these coaches and we tell you what's special about them and where Indian Railways needs to improve:

Indian Railways, Indian Railways Suresh Prabhu, Indian Railways chair carsThese coaches have multiple new features ? from LCD screens for entertainment to aircraft-like comfortable seats.

Indian Railways is looking to introduce new types of trains – whether it is Deen Dayalu coaches and Antyodaya Express for unreserved passengers or the Humsafar Express and Tejas to make your train journey more comfortable. The latest addition to this initiative is a new upgraded type of ‘luxury’ general and executive-class coaches that have been manufactured at the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala. These coaches have multiple new features – from LCD screens for entertainment to aircraft-like comfortable seats. FE Online got the chance to exclusively review these coaches and we tell you what’s special about them and where Indian Railways needs to improve:

General chair car:

The General chair car has been made with a 3+2 seat configuration. With these new type of coaches Indian Railways has decided to make your journey much more fun! The seats have an LCD screen for entertainment and they will also be used to display passenger friendly safety information. The seats are fairly comfortable with a recliner and head rest. A leg rest has also been provided.

Indian Railways, Indian Railways Suresh Prabhu, Indian Railways chair carsGeneral chair car

Just like Shatabdi Express, the seat has a foldable tray, bottle holder and a small net rack to keep small belongings. To give the coach an aircraft-like feel reading lights have been provided. There is also a button that can be used to call the attendant to your seat.

Indian Railways, Indian Railways Suresh Prabhu, Indian Railways chair carsLCD screens for entertainment

The rack above the aisle of seats is spacious, giving ample room for your luggage. The space between the column of 3+2 seats leaves room for the food trolley to move freely. However, in the middle of the coach, 10 seats face each other with a table in between. This means that people who occupy them will not have the advantage of the LCD screens and the leg rests.

Executive chair car:

The Executive Chair car is a 2+2 configuration, and here too the people sitting in the centre are at a disadvantage because they do not have LCD screens for their entertainment. One additional feature that stands for this new type of executive coach is that there is a cushioned leg support. All in all the recliner, head rest and cushioned leg rest make for a comfortable package – very similar to what you can experience in the business-class of an aircraft.

Indian Railways, Indian Railways Suresh Prabhu, Indian Railways chair carsExecutive-class seats

Toilets:

In line with Indian Railways’ vision to make all tracks defecation-free, bio-vaccum toilets have been installed in these modular coaches. There are three toilets in each coach, which are equipped with soap dispensers and tissue holders. There are also toilet occupancy indicators outside the door that beam a red light in case the loo is occupied. Such occupancy indicators are also there at the end of the seating area in the coach.

Indian Railways, Indian Railways Suresh Prabhu, Indian Railways chair carsModular bio-vaccum toilet

Pantry:

In India, major Mail and Express trains have pantry cars; with the introduction of e-catering in 2015, Railways had started withdrawing pantry cars from major trains. Similar to a Shatabdi, the new coaches also have a pantry cabin. Each chair car has a small pantry unit which is equipped with a boiler that dispenses hot water, a heating chamber, a refrigerating box and a chilling unit.

Indian Railways, Indian Railways Suresh Prabhu, Indian Railways chair carsModern-day pantry

This ensures that food can be served hot and perishable items can be preserved. According to Indian Railways, what is new to this pantry cabin and is absent in other coaches is a special soup vending machine. Just opposite to the pantry unit is an area where the food trolley can be parked along with other items that passengers may require. In a nutshell the pantry area looks neat and nicely packaged.

Other notable features:

The new coaches have an advanced fire control and suppression system. One special feature is that automatic doors have been used in these coaches. The control of these doors lies with the guard, which means they can only be opened and closed by him. We believe that this is a good safety measure that will be introduced, since it would eliminate the possibility of any human accident occurring when the door is opened in a fast moving train.

Exterior:

The coaches are perfectly ordinary to look at. There is nothing that makes them stand apart. With Humsafar Express, Indian Railways managed to catch the eye of the passengers – the train was bright, colourful and was easily recognisable.

Indian Railways, Indian Railways Suresh Prabhu, Indian Railways chair carsExterior of modern ?luxury? chair cars

However, these coaches with their dark blue and yellow combination have nothing fresh to offer in terms of their exterior look and feel. We believe that Indian Railways needs to work on making trains and their coaches more appealing.

Indian Railways is yet to decide on where these coaches will ply, whether they would be attached to Gatimaan or Shatabdi Express or run as an independent train. The coaches have their set of shortcomings, but some of the new features that have been introduced are a definite improvement and will go a long way in making your rail travel more enjoyable and safer.

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