VELLORE: The Southern Railway has been following a strange policy for a while in allotting berths to passengers in two-tier AC coaches. Despite heavy rush, it allots only 46 berths to passengers, while the coaches have the capacity to accommodate 48, getting the goat of travelers from five railway divisions spread across two states.
An official order was reportedly issued to the divisional officials of Chennai, Salem, Tiruchy, Thiruvananthapuram, Madurai and Palakkad to allot only 46 berths per coach while preparing the reservation charts for AC two-tier class.
Many railway passengers, who recently travelled in Cheran, Podhigai, Thiruvananthapuram, Palani and Nilagiri Expresses, alleged that even though there was a waiting list for second class AC, two berths went unallocated.
S Kumarappa, who travelled in Palani Express from Katpadi a few days ago, said that though the coach board claimed a capacity of 48 berths, nobody was allotted seats 47 and 48. “I was expecting the waiting list ticket of my wife to get confirmed, but it did not happen. At a time there is such a huge demand for berths, it is surprising that two berths are not allotted,” he said. The passengers on Pearl City Express from Chennai Egmore to Kovilpatti too had the same grievance.
When Express verified the reservation charts of Palani, Nilagiri, Cheran and Nellai Express trains, it found that all the second class coaches accommodated only 46 passengers, despite the claimed capacity of 48 berths. However, the Mangaluru Express and the West Coast Express between have only 46 berths.
Express found out that except the two in AC two-tier class, all the seats/berths in three-tier AC, sleeper class, chair car, executive chair and second sitting coaches were allotted to passengers. While the Southern Railway maintains more than 150 two-tier AC coaches in six divisions, the non-allocation of seats results in railway passengers losing out on more than 300 berths a day.
When contacted, official sources blamed the poor design of coaches assembled by the Railway Coach Factory (RCF) in Kapurthala for the troubles.
Earlier, the two-tier AC coaches were procured from the Integral Coach Factory at Perambur, which manufactured 48-seater coaches. A few years ago, the Indian Railways transferred the two-tier coach manufacturing works RCF in Kapurthala. However, the RCF did not manufacture coaches, but assembled them using spare parts.
“Two layouts for the two-tier coaches have created confusion in chart preparation. Hence, it was directed to follow a single layout - in this case the 46-berth plan,” said a senior official.
The RCF was also unable to design a coach that could accommodate bedrolls without reducing number of berths. The RCF was permitted to reduce the number of berths, leading to coaches rolled with only 46 seats.