Fulfilling one more budget announcement, Suresh Prabhu will inaugurate the Humsafar Express next month. Humasafar Express will comprise of only 3AC coaches and will run on the busiest long-distance overnight routes. The Humsafar Expresses will have 19 coaches – all of them 3-tier AC coaches, giving the much needed respite to the large chunk of middle class travellers who don’t prefer travelling in Sleeper class, and at the same time are not easily able to afford higher classes of travel like 2AC and 1AC.
Most of the mail/express trains, on an average, have 2-3 coaches of 3AC which translates to 120-180 seats per train. Even Rajdhanis have about 8-10 coaches of 3AC. During the peak summers, winters and festive season this leads to a huge waiting list as 3AC is the first preference for the middle class travellers. Most of the times, it leads to Waiting List as long as 300 on east-bound routes during peak holiday seasons. As a result, most of them are not able to travel to their destinations. A Humsafar train with 19 coaches of 3AC means about 1350 people whose priority is three-tier AC will be able to travel at once. This is particularly important in busy east-bound routes to Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal from Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai as these are the routes where the rush of middle-class passengers is the maximum.
The new coaches of Humsafar Express are state of the art Linke-Hoffman-Busch (LHB) coaches manufactured at RCF Kapurthala, which can run at a maximum speed of 160 km/hr. These coaches are equipped with many better facilities such as smoke and fire detection kits, CCTV, better and well-cushioned seats, Bio toilets, charging points at every side lower berths, and signs in braille for visually impaired travellers to list a few. The Humsafar Express is expected to significantly improve the standards and comforts of travelling in 3AC coaches. With all these advantages, the fare is expected to be 20% more than the 3AC fare of normal Mail/express trains. As per the unconfirmed reports, the first Humsafar Express might be inaugurated between New Delhi and Gorakhpur, to be followed by another one between New Delhi and Patna. Indian Railways plan to run many more Humsafar Express in next few years on buy long-distance routes.