Indian Railways is all set to roll out the new air-conditioned “Economy” class, which is going to be a new class of train travel in India. So far, 27 coaches designed specifically for the AC Economy class have been distributed among various zones of Indian Railways for use. These new AC-Economy coaches will be boasted by Duronto Express trains under the Western Railway zone and other trains originating from several parts of the country. Instead of 72 berths, these coaches will have 83 berths, as in the AC-3 tier coaches. At present, the Railway Board is in the process of deciding the fare for this class, according to an IE report. Currently, the AC-3 tier is the entry-level AC class travel option for long-distance trains.
Indian Railways believe that the fare should be kept within reach of those passengers who ordinarily purchase tickets of non-AC ‘Sleeper’ class. However, another line of argument favours keeping the new AC-Economy class fares as close to the AC-3 tier class as possible. According to officials, the matter has been hanging on this since the month of May. The Railway Ministry is likely to take a formal decision on the pricing of the new AC-Economy class soon. The new AC-Economy class, design-wise, is supposed to be an upgrade from the non-AC Sleeper class and almost on a par with Indian Railways AC-3 tier class, with an extra bay added to account for the extra berths. Meanwhile, the report also stated that messages have been circulated internally to name the new AC Economy class as ‘3E’ class in reservation paperwork.
Over a decade ago, the ‘AC Economy’ class was a failure in the Garib Rath trains as just to maximize occupancy, the national transporter had merely inserted more middle berths, leading to passenger discomfort and complaints. However, this time, the coach has been completely redesigned by the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala. The design of the AC Economy class coach includes redesigning of air-condition ducting in order to provide individual vents for each berth. Besides, it boasts foldable snack table in both transverse and longitudinal bays, an improved and modular design of berths and seats, injury free spaces as well as holders for water bottles, magazines and mobile phones. Additionally, individual reading lights, mobile charging points and standard sockets have been provided for each berth.