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Upgrade for common man! Indian Railways to revamp 500 Mail/Express trains; replace 120 rakes with LHBs next FY

Smriti Jain
Indian Railways to upgrade Mail Express trains under Project Utkrisht

Indian Railways to upgrade 500 Mail/Express train rakes in the next one year! With an aim to improve the travel experience of the common man on Mail/Express trains, Indian Railways is hoping to upgrade around 500 train rakes in the upcoming financial year. A senior Railway Ministry official told Financial Express Online that as part of the phase 2 of Project Utkrisht, Indian Railways is targeting the upgrade and revamp of 500 Mail/Express rakes that have old ICF-design coaches. Piyush Goyal-led Railway Ministry aims to upgrade 640 rakes of Mail/Express trains by March 2020, 140 of which are likely to be revamped in the current financial year. Subsequently, 500 rakes will get a facelift in the financial year 2019-2020, the official told Financial Express Online.

With Project Utkrisht, Indian Railways has empowered all zonal railways to upgrade the Mail/Express trains with ICF-design coaches at an approximate cost of Rs 60 lakh per rake. The upgrade involves repairing old seats and berths to make them more comfortable, maintaining better on-board cleanliness, better signage boards and most importantly revamping the toilets to make them stink-free with venturi system and better flushing and providing health faucets and enhanced capacity dustbins.

In the meantime, the national transporter is looking to replace ICF design coaches with new LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch) ones. According to the official quoted above, Indian Railways will replace 120 ICF-design train rakes with LHB-coach trains in the upcoming financial year. Indian Railways has already stopped the production of ICF-design coaches in favour of LHB coaches, since the latter have better passenger comfort and safety features. Anti-climbing is one of the most important feature of LHB coaches that avoids a pile-up of train coaches in case of an accident.

Financial Express Online learns that Indian Railways plans to manufacture over 4,000 LHB coaches each in the next three financial years; which means that between 2019-2020, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, over 12,000 LHB coaches would be manufactured cumulatively. Incidentally, Indian Railways says it has manufactured more LHB coaches in the last two years than it did in the first 17 years since the introduction of this technology on the national transporter’s network.