Rail Budget: Luxury Anubhuti class to pamper passengers

DF

In a bid to provide comforts and facilities comparable to full-service airlines, Indian Railways will introduce a new "hyper luxury" class for those willing to pay more, Railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal announced on Tuesday.

To be called 'Anubhuti', this class will use new coaches that will be manufactured exclusively at the coach factory in RaeBareli at an additional cost of Rs 30 lakh per coach. While Anubhuti ticket prices are still being worked out, senior officials said it is expected to be around 40-50 per cent more than executive class on Shatabdi Express.

For now, every Shatabdi Express and a few short-distance Rajdhanis will have one such coach. If the response is encouraging, the Railways may roll out entire trains of Anubhuti coaches.

Each Anubhuti coach will be fitted with ergonomically designed cushions, LCD video screens and thermo-foamed interiors for maximum comfort. There will be state-of-the-art illumination with energy efficient lighting, automatic doors and a spacious aisle for better on-board services such as catering. The latest nano-paint technology will be used on the interiors and exterior.

Anubhuti will have modular toilets so far unseen on Indian Railways, as per plans drawn up by the Railway Board. They will come with free toiletries, and will be zero-discharge units. Passengers will be able to book services they need on these coaches through SMS, phone or email.

Wi-fi Internet access will be available in these coaches — a facility that will also be extended to the Rajdhanis, Shatabdis and Durontos.

Ticket booking, especially e-tickets, has been a pet peeve of passengers due to the crawling speed of the IRCTC ticket-booking website. Its rate of rejection and failure of transactions are also high.

To address this, Bansal has decided to go in for a massive augmentation of the IRCTC website during this calendar year. The augmented system will book 7,200 tickets per minute against the present 2,000. "This will bring about a paradigm shift in Internet rail ticketing," Bansal said in his speech.

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