The Indian Railways plans to introduce and run regular non-AC long-distance trains from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Bengal, and Jharkhand to important cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Surat, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, and portions of Punjab to meet the needs of low-income travelers, particularly migratory labor.
According to various sources, the railways intend to begin train services before the next Lok Sabha election. These routes were carefully chosen after analyzing waitlisted ticket data and analyzing the origin-destination patterns of large passenger numbers.
According to an official, the railways have significantly increased their ability to carry additional trains in the last nine years, laying approximately 20,000 kilometers of new track. The routes chosen correlate to locations where there is a large flow of workers to job centers. During the Covid-19 epidemic, these same lines were used to carry special Shramik Express trains, facilitating the return of migrant laborers back to their home states.
Apart from boosting train services, railway authorities told that they intend to improve passenger comfort and safety. The objective is to replace the remaining 20,000 obsolete Integral Coach Factory (ICF) coaches with safer Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches. Furthermore, during the next 4-5 years, all coaches will be outfitted with “plug doors” to avoid accidents by preventing trains from starting. Unless and until the doors are securely sealed. In the event of an emergency, this fail-safe device will immediately open the doors.
To further streamline operations and save maintenance expenses, the railway network would cut the number of passenger coaches from 28 to just two: LHB and Vande Bharat vehicles. By using this method, The Indian Railways hopes to replicate the success that low-cost airlines have had in optimizing their operations. In addition to these enhancements, the Indian Railways intends to provide passengers in ordinary coaches with inexpensive and sanitary food alternatives.
Passengers would be able to purchase “economy meals” for Rs 20 and “snack meals” for Rs 50 at extended service counters located near the carriages on platforms. The “economy meal” would consist of seven ‘pooris’ with dry ‘aaloo’ and pickle, while the “snack meal” will feature rice, rajma, chole, khichdi kulche, bhature, pao-bhaji, and masala dosa.
The Indian Railways’ key efforts attempt to address the requirements of lower-income travelers, notably migrant workers, while also providing a more comfortable and safer travel experience for all passengers.