In last five years, 70 percent of newly added seats and berths in Indian trains are in AC class

The trend shows that the Indian Railways prefers to serve passengers who can afford higher ticket fares. Share of sleeper berths had fallen from 54% to 50%.

Published: 15th August 2019 01:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th August 2019 01:28 AM   |  A+A-

indian railways

For representational purposes (File Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: About 70 percent of berths and seats added in the trains across the country in the last five years are in the air-conditioned classes, revealed the data sourced by ‘Express’ through RTI.

The Indian Railways has increased the total number of seats and berths from 49.02 crore to 54.37 crore between April 2014 and March 2019. The addition of 5.35 crore seats and berths was by introduction of new trains and argumentation of existing trains.

However, a whopping 3.73 crore berths (70 %) were added in various air-conditioned classes . Only 1.61 crore (30%) is in the non-AC category.

Rail users say that by replacing the sleeper coaches with three-tier AC coaches in the highly demanded sections, the railways has been creating artificial demand for AC classes. This was used as justification to introduce premier trains across India, rued T Mohammed Mubeen, former member of Divisional Rail Users Consultative Committee, Chennai.

“While replacing the conventional ICF rake with modern LHB rake, two to three sleeper coaches were removed forcing the passengers to opt for AC classes whose ticket fares are 200 to 250 percent higher than the sleeper coaches,” Mubeen said.

Of the 1.61 crore in the non-AC category, 82.72 lakh are sleeper berths and 79.01 lakhs are second class seats. Of the 3.73 crore in AC category, 2.75 crore berths (51 %) are in the three tier AC class.

An analysis into the data shows that the number of berths in three tier AC class increased from 7.64 crore to 10.39 crore between 2014 and 2019 registering 26 percent increase. However, sleeper berths rose from 26.68 crore to 27.51 crore for the same period showing just 3 percent rise.

Class wise break up of number of seats/berths in Indian railways (in Crore)

Class

2014-15

2018-19

Sleeper

26.68

27.51

Second Seat (2S)

8.18

8.97

Three tier AC

7.64

10.39

Two Tier AC

2.63

3.03

First AC

.24

.29

Chair Car

3.38

3.91

Executive class

.14

.16

First Class

.082

.031

Three tier Economy

0

.034

Total

49.02

54.37

The addition of new berths in AC classes has resulted in bringing down the share of sleeper berths in Indian railways from 54% to 50 % between 2014 and 2019 and increased share of 3rd AC sleeper berths from 15% to 19%. The RTI reply was given by Centre of Railway Information System (CRIS), an information technology wing of Indian railways which maintains the IRCTC.

The passengers alleged that the trend shows that the Railways is preferring to serve only passengers who could afford air conditioned coaches.

Railway earnings through passenger ticketing 2014-2019

Financial year

Number of passengers 

(in crore)

Passenger ticket earnings (in crore)

2014 – 15

823

42,189.61

2015 - 16

815.1

44,283.59

2016 - 17

821.9

46,280.45

2017 -18

828.7

48,643.14

2018 – 19  

843.8

51,000.20

Mubeen said that barring a few regular express trains railways, many of the new trains introduced were premier trains like UDAY, Humsafar, Duronto, AC Express, Tejas and Vande Bharat (Train 18) expresses whose ticket fares were as high as flight charges. "When the tikets not available in sleeper class, passengers forced to opt for 3rd AC class paying excessive fare,” he added

When contacted by Express, a senior railway official said the move was a policy decision to reduce the subsidy burden of railways. “Railways earns revenue without any subsidy from AC coaches. The number of AC coaches will be increased in highly congested sections."

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