When it’s ‘Make in India’, it is better! That’s what the newest railways coaches have to say. Prototype of swanky railway coaches was showcased recently, and the feel-good factor of these coaches is so high that you have to see it to believe it. The aesthetics run high with additional passenger amenities and plush interiors. And when 111 such trains roll over in June, airlines might have to face stiff competition!
The makeover is a part of the Indian Railways’ Make in India initiative. Before we start planning an exciting summer vacation on board these posh trains, let us have a quick look at some of the many special features: The panels are pastel coloured, the angular edges of the seats are done away with, the appealing toilet modules include controlled discharged water tap, an odour control and exhaust fans. Ergonomic ladders in all sleeper coaches will make reaching the upper berths easier. Windows will be covered by powered Venetian or roller blinds instead of the conventional curtains.
To some, the revamp may mean not much. With the average cost of upgrade of a non-AC coach at Rs 16 lakh, and Rs 22 lakh for an AC coach, the railways is likely to incur a huge cost. So how is the public sector going to raise money for the project? In all likelihood, the upcoming Railway Budget will have an answer. For all the swankiness and the facilities of the new trains, we are not ready for yet another price hike. The fares were jacked by 4.35% for all the AC Classes, including First Class, only last November.
We Indians, with an inherent sense of belonging, tend to treat public property as our own, and take home anything that we fancy. Vandalism in the coaches is rampant, so much so that the railways decided to chain the toilet’s steel mug to an iron handle, lest someone takes it away on the sly. We all are accustomed to those travellers who litter the coach floor with food waste, not really bothering about the predicament of their fellow passengers! Every now and then, the food served in the superfast Rajdhani/Shatabdi Express comes under severe criticism for being unpalatably bad! When such things come to our mind, we can only get sceptical about the success of high-end luxury trains.
Without basic sanitary sense, no amount of beautification can make these coaches thrive! The Make in India coaches will need the Clean India drive to retain its objective.