Indian Railways is set to replace AC-II tier coaches on some Rajdhani and Duronto Express trains with AC-III tier coaches in the coming months, learns Financial Express Online. AC-III tier coaches are the most popular segment of coaches within reserved passenger travel and are also the ones that yield a profit for the Indian Railways. According to senior officials that FE Online spoke to, Indian Railways has been mulling this step for some time now, given the popularity of the AC-III tier coaches and their ability to generate more revenue for the national transporter. Another reason why Piyush Goyal-led Ministry of Railways is considering this important move is the relatively low occupancy in AC-II tier coaches, especially since the introduction of the flexi-fare/dynamic pricing scheme in 2016.
“The project to replace AC-II tier coaches with AC-III tier coaches is under consideration and a study is being undertaken to analyse Rajdhani Express and Duronto routes where the AC-II tier segment is losing out to low-cost airlines,” an official tells FE Online. “The train fares for AC-II tier and AC-1st class, especially after the introduction of flexi-fare scheme, are sometimes higher than airfares. Why would people choose trains in such cases,” the officials says adding that no particular route has been identified as yet.
In an interview with FE Online earlier this year, Mohammad Jamshed Member (Traffic) at Railway Board had said that Indian Railways plans to step up the production of AC-III tier coaches. “The passenger reservation segment for long-distance reserved trains is where I get 60% of the passenger revenues. And this is just from 6% of the overall number of railway passengers. Within this, we keep on analysing the passengers profiles and we have found that there is a preference of all kinds of inter-city trains for moving in AC-III tier coaches,” Mohammad Jamshed had said. “AC-III tier is being patronised very well so we have decided to go in for more and more AC-3 tier coaches. We have given an order for production of 1,000 AC-III tier coaches every year for 3 years now. This will also help us generate more revenue from the passenger reservation segment,” he had added.