Indian Railways train journeys have always been associated with convenience and never luxury. But, what if we were to tell you that Indian Railways is now betting on “SMART” luxurious coaches with 200 kmph speed potential to improve passenger experience on trains! Giving importance to both passenger safety and comfort, Indian Railways is looking to increasingly introduce “SMART” coaches and trains, learns Financial Express Online. For this purpose, the Rail Coach Factory (RCF) of Kapurthala has been tasked with rolling out around 107 SMART coaches in the present financial year. SMART or Specific Modified Aesthetic Reform Travel coaches are in effect Tejas Express-like coaches that will boast of modern aircraft-like features in terms of entertainment, comfort and cleanliness. “SMART coach will have all the features of Tejas, this is a project that was given to us by the Railway Board and we have taken it up as a challenge. Last year, the Tejas Express that was rolled out between Mumbai and Goa had SMART coaches but this year’s coaches will have many more features,” Satya Prakash Trivedi, GM of RCF tells FE Online.
According to Trivedi, the essential features of the SMART coach include; aircraft-like bio-vacuum toilets with modular fittings, sensor-based taps and soap dispensers, Wi-Fi enabled entertainment systems/Wi-Fi facility, GPS-based passenger information screens, attendant call buttons, personalised reading lights and reclining comfortable seats. The average cost of manufacturing these LHB platform-based SMART coaches is approximately Rs 3 crore depending on whether they are executive class or chair car. LHB-platform coaches have enhanced anti-climbing features, hence reducing chances of injuries in case of an accident. Yet another feature that will cheer passengers is the ability of these SMART coaches to run at speeds up to 200 kmph!
“Basically we are manufacturing Tejas coaches, which can also be called SMART coaches. The second Tejas rake will roll out in May and third will be ready some time in June or July. In total we will make 107 SMART coaches this year, that is roughly 6 train rakes,” Trivedi tells FE Online. “Based on the feedback that we received for the first Tejas Express, we have added features such as venetian blinds on windows, automatic interconnecting doors between coaches that will either open/close automatically or passengers will have to press a button next to the door. We have also changed the colour-scheme of seats a bit. The overall experience would be completely aircraft-like,” he adds. The second Tejas Express train with SMART coaches is expected to ply on the Delhi-Chandigarh route.
Salient features of Indian Railways SMART coaches – Tejas Express
- Ergonomic seating with improved cushioning and upholstery
- Improved aesthetics with new colour scheme and anti-graffiti vinyl sheets
- Reclining seats with leg rests in executive class
- Attendant calling buttons
- Wi-Fi enabled entertainment systems/Wi-Fi facility
- Smart windows with automatic venetian blinds
- Adjustable personalised reading lights
- Dust sealed gangways, fire and smoke detection and suppression system
- LED lighting
- CCTV systems
- Vending machines for tea and coffee
- Integrated Braille displays, toilet occupancy indicators
- Bio-vacuum toilets with modular sensor-based fittings
- Mobile charging and USB points for every seat
- Electronic Passenger reservation chart
Tejas Express on the Mumbai-Goa route saw its personalised LCD infotainment screens being damaged. The Railway Board had then taken the decision to remove them in the other Tejas Express trains. “We have already imported these screens so the next two Tejas Express trains will offer personalised infotainment systems, but in the other coaches of future, we will only have the provision for Wi-Fi enabled entertainment for passengers,” Trivedi says.
Offering higher speed, enhanced safety and better passenger amenities on new trains with SMART coaches is a welcome move by Indian Railways, however maintenance and punctuality are key to making these a success.