DOUBLE-DECKER COACHES … India, after long drag, may introduce double-deck coaches on long-distance routes


NEW DELHI: The Indian Railways, a picture of neglect and a beehive of incompetent leaders and bureaucrats, has failed to match with the growth of railway systems worldwide. Railway network in India was the gift left behind by the British Raj. India failed to take matters forward in significant ways. 

Indian Railways’ growth, if any, remained at snail’s pace. Yet, there is something, too little though, to crow about now. The Rail Coach Factory (RCF) at Kapurthala has introduced for the Indian Railways a high-speed double-decker coach. Such coaches, once its safety certificate is obtained, will be built in a way that they can run at a speed of upto 160km per hour. No big shake, though.

India selectively had double-decker trains as in the case of shuttle services running between Pune and Mumbai years ago, or between Howrah and Dhanbad, for several years now, but the cause was not taken forward for long-distance trains. Successive governments did too little to improve the quality of the railway networks. 

These new coaches will now wait for approval from the Research and Standards Organisation, another entity that has a reputation for incompetence.

From Railway ministry and Railway Board down to lowest levels, Indian Railways typified the complacence and incompetence that are bywords for the India’s governance systems. Incompetent people’s representatives lording over as ministers and visionless bureaucrats who are out to make money from the system by hook or by crook make a mess of the scenario in most cases.

Union railways minister Piyush Goyal tom-tomed this as a “great achievement.” The proposal is to introduce double-decker coaches to long-distance routes so that more passengers can be carried by every train. “The coach will be sent to RDSO, Lucknow for further oscillation trials before putting in commercial service,” officials said.

RCF had also produced non-AC double decker coaches on conventional “ICF” design pattern in 1990. It produced the first AC double decker coach in March 2010 which could be operated at a speed of 130kmph. Later the RCF produced ‘UDAY’ double decker coaches with more features.

The new double-decker coach has a capacity of 120 seats. The upper deck can seat 50 passengers and the lower deck 48. The coach has optimised aisle width for a comfortable journey, plush interiors, overhead luggage rack, mobile and laptop charging sockets, GPS-based passenger information system and LED destination board among other passenger-centric features. A mini pantry has been built in each coach to store and serve hot or chilled refreshments to passengers.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal also tweeted,”Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala is leading from the front in indigenous development & innovation.”

The successive Congress governments neglected the Railways sector. Those who became railway ministers concentrated full attention to reach maximum railway facilities to their respective regions, and cared less for the overall growth of the railways. Among the major development initiatives was one done by George Fernandes as railway minister. He introduced the Konkan rail service linking the south-western sectors to Mumbai as also Goa. He also introduced cushioned seats for second class berths. 

The period of Lalu Prasad as rail minister was also a period of good governance for whatever reasons, and he won a lot of acclaim. Nitish Kumar as railway minister could not do much for the railways and resigned when a train accident took place, unable to fathom the depths of the railways sector. He later returned to the government as agriculture minister. Mamata Banerjee as railway minister spent most of her time back in West Bengal, building a political party for herself with the money she made from various questionable sources.

Railways is known for massive loot of its coffers through multiple channels. A Union Railway minister had to resign during the UPA II period, on charges of collecting bribes for recruitments via the Railway Board. Railway unions run by Communist parties and others are also part of the rackets in the railways, making a mess of its affairs.

When Narendra Modi formed his first government in 2014, there were big talks about introduction of bullet trains with speeds as high as 400km per hour. The first pilot project started with Japanese tech-support is ailing still; and with a change of government in Maharashtra, the project was almost in a stage of abandonment. Other promises that the Modi government made in its initial phase too remain mostly unfulfilled.

Japan started its bullet trains decades ago. China too started bullet trains, and later went one further up by introducing faster trains with Maglev system, or Magnetic Levitation Technology. These trains run at speeds of upto 650km per hour. The speed of India’s fastest train, the Vande Bharat Express is 180km on its run between New Delhi and Varanasi. The next, Gatiman Express, runs at a speed of 160km per hour. The Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani express runs at a speed of 150 km per hour.

Incompetent politicians inefficient bureaucrats are taking India on a ride downhill in most sectors of growth.


The Kapurthala coach factory was set up in 1986. This is the second coach factory under the Indian Railways apart from the nation having a private coach factory. Set up during the term of Rajiv Gandhi, this coach factory has so far produced over 10,000 coaches, forming about 30 per cent of the total coaches on the Indian Railway service now. IHN-NN


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