Introducing the Economy AC-3 Class, with 3-tiered side berths

Remember rail coaches with three-tiered side berths? First tried in AC-3 and Sleeper coaches during Lalu Prasad's term as Railway Minister and withdrawn after a public outcry, these coaches are set to return as the Railways launch a new class of AC travel the Economy AC-3 on its Duronto non-stop superfast trains.

The first of the Durontos, to be flagged off between Sealdah and Delhi on September 18, will have five Economy AC-3 coaches in addition to one AC-1, three AC-2 and four AC-3 coaches. This fully air-conditioned biweekly train is to cover the 1,454 km distance between Sealdah and Delhi in 16-and-half hours, one-and-half hours less than a Rajdhani on the same route.

The Railways are positioning the Economy AC-3 as a new AC Class, offering travel at fares lesser than the normal AC-3. The extra berths are being squeezed in to increase coach capacity from 64 to 72 berths it will, however, reduce the comfort level. A ticket in Economy AC-3 may cost up to Rs 50 less than an AC-3 ticket.

Sources in the Railways Ministry told The Indian Express that to start with, the Durontos, like the one between Sealdah and Delhi, will have coaches designed and manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai. "The Economy AC-3 coaches will be similar in overall dimension to normal AC-3 coaches but will have more berths squeezed in," the sources said.

While some officials maintain that the Economy AC-3 will have the German LHB-design coaches, other officials say that these will be there only in Durontos with both AC and non-AC coaches while the fully air-conditioned Durontos will have ICF-styled coaches with extra berths.

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