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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Indian Railway goes Crazy-Adds Extra Berths

First published during December 2007. Reposted with relevant photos.

the newly introduced extra berthIndian Railways has decided to increase the capacity of its trains by about 12% by introducing an additional berth in the coaches. Refer the images- an additional berth is being introduced in all coaches, which will be positioned inbetween the side-upper and side-lower berths. Passengers who are allotted this berth need to share the seat with the 3 other people who occupy the main seat (Refer last image)the additional berth in Indian railways when unfolded
Reportedly this idea of increasing the capacity has been accepted to generate more revenue by carrying more passengers in same number of trains, so that the need to increase ticket fare will be eliminated.

This change did cause lots of confusion among passengers w.r.t their seat numbers-as seat numbers mentioned in ticket (booked before the new seating was fed to computer) and seat number assigned in the final chart (which was according to new seating layout) were different-sleeping passengers were forced to wake up by newly entered passengers who thought their seat has been intruded and TTE had to intervene to dose the confusion. (Any change brings in confusion-can't really complain)

But most of the passengers are irked by this move which is guaranteed to cause more and more inconvenience to the passengers as they have to share their seats and luggage space with the extra traveler. Indian Railways has been implementing this without taking passengers into confidence.


Pros:
1. More passengers in same space-More revenue, no need to hike fares. (This only postpones price hike for few months or years-Doesn't ensure that ticket fare will never be hiked.)
2. Its better to travel somehow than not travel at all (due to non availability of seats) Lot of people are desparate to travel and sleep on floors or wherever there's space. It might be good idea to accomodate them somehow, even if it means inconvenience to others. (If I or You happen to be one of those desparate passengers who could get a berth only because of this new system, we'll certainly thank railways for this, not if otherwise)

old and new seating layout
Cons:
1. Major compromise on convenience-Less space for seating, luggages and to move around.
2. Money needs to spent in making changes to the coaches (install extra berths), change reservation system.
3. If passengers get irritated by this new system they may head towards low cost airlines, resulting in loss to railways. (very low probability though)
4. Indian Railways monopolistic decision enforced without taking passengers into confidence.
5. The relief it might bring to passengers will be very short termed. Given the rate of population explotion, even the extra seats will soon be insuffecient.

6. The 9th passenger has to travel like an unwanted creature-No dedicated luggage space, seat has to be shared with others, berth has to be folded to let others sit
7. Railway sticker says 9PM to 6AM is night time during which berths can be folded. But not everyone follow this timing-people stay awake till late night and prefer to sleep till 9 AM-Others will have to compromise
8. This is just a temporary work around. With ever exploding population, this also will soon prove to be insuffecient. Adding more compartments/running more trains can be a better alternative.

What do you think of this idea? Drop a comment.
Fourth person to sit here
Will it not be better for railways to add more chair cars where in people can sit and travel, particularly for short haul journeys? Chair cars can accomodate more people than a sleeper coach. better still, what prevents adding few extra bogies?

What next? an additional berth in between the 3 existing berths?

27 comments :

hari said...

Shrinidhi, I'm sorry, but I don't believe there are any "pros" to this issue. It's a ridiculous move by the railways and already crowded trains will become unbearable.

What about the toilets and water availability for passengers? They're already stinking and this move will make it even worse. Compartments will start becoming worse than a dustbin.

They might as well transport passengers in goods trains in the future to "save costs".

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Hari,
I agree. This will not elimiate price hike forever but only post pone it for sometime.

ananya said...

i agree with what u have written.as such the RAC people come and sit n share the seats ...the cubicle will get very crowded if the extra berths are introduced

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Anaya,

Thanks.

Laddoo said...

My 2 cents...
We understand that more people are travelling and they are travelling more often than before for business, pleasure etc. This is a big opportunity for Indian Railways as trains are the most preferred mode of transport next to flights which have limited operations and are also expensive. Almost every train runs full house within days of booking opening. Even if all the trains are doubled over weekends, I am sure they will be full. What more can a service provider ask for?
Increasing seats in exisiting trains seems to be a penny wise idea and the opportunity loss is still huge!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Increasing seats is only a temp solution. An year or so later population will explode again and even increased seats will fall short.

Sarvesh said...

I sincerely believe compartments should be provided based on the hours of journey and time of hourney. its done in some cases like Mumbai-Pune. Blr-CHennai, etc but not as sifnificantly as it needs to be.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes, It may be acceptable in short journeys.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Comment received for this post at Mouthshut:

vijayanand.m said:
Dec 04, 2007 01:30 PM

Hi Shrinidhi,

I wonder how 4 berths can be accomodated in place of 3 berths which is already congested and causing inconvenience for passengers.
Can you site any newspaper where it is published?

enidhi said:
Dec 04, 2007 01:33 PM

@ Vijayanand: as I stated in the first line of the review, I read about it in Mint Newspaper (a new paper from Hindustan Times and WST), Bangalore, 3rd December 2007 edition,

Read these for more information:

http://in.news.yahoo.com
/071019/43/6m4z3.html

http://www.livemint.com/2007/12/0223
5954/Extra-berth-train-travel-ente.html
aravind.nageswaran said:
Dec 04, 2007 01:35 PM

i too happened to read this recently but dont remember the paper. i travel by train pretty often and till date i take trains cause i have no airport in my town. have to travel 130km to my closest airport, and take a flight only when its utmost neccessary. but if the new system is implemented and i find it uncomfortable i think i would prefer to travel 130km to catch my flight rather than suffer the whole journey!
Chintu25 Star Writer said:
Dec 04, 2007 01:37 PM

Shrini,

My first reaction was What??? I mean how is this possible? where is the space? Trains are already so overstuffed that this wud only create problems.
Lets take an example, this diwali when we were travelling via train there was a family which was carrying around 10 pcs of heavy (sandook) lug against 4 passengers. They kept the stuff not only near their seats but it was spread around other seats also. Now in such cases when there already is less space to keep luggage if we just add one more seat where wud the luggage be adjusted?
This is just one angle there are many more like infrastructure and all...
May be thats why it is being kept hush hush as it won’t be taken well by people...

There surely must be a better way...

Anyways glad u wrote this one....

Smita

PS I don’t think low cost airlines are low cost anymore, the hike in fuel prices have increased the taxes there....and they are still not available in all cities...

enidhi said:
Dec 04, 2007 01:43 PM

Arvind and Smita,

Thanks for the comments.

Laloo did lot of good things for Railways. Not sure why he got this stupid idea...

Smita, I’ve read ur review on Indian Railways
shriramsrinivasa said:
Dec 04, 2007 02:04 PM

Hi Shrinidhi,

As you mentioned in your comments, its a stupid idea. We all know our trains are already crowded and conjusted. Low cost airlines may not be affordable by many. So lets hope railways somehow will drop this idea.
rohitthebest Star Writer said:
Dec 04, 2007 02:32 PM

Good to know that.
This will be the end of my train travels I guess.
hakoonamatata Star Writer said:
Dec 05, 2007 06:24 AM

I must admit, its quite an out-of-the-box idea!
This would make the sleeper coaches virtually boxes. It may not be that bad an Idea after all, unless you end up being sidelined on one of the side berths.
thakurman said:
Dec 05, 2007 07:39 AM

Cost cutting on expected lines. Instead of cutting staff, they are increasing berths and seats. I think that’s a better idea for some states, but it may not work for most states.

?+?™

enidhi said:
Dec 05, 2007 08:48 AM

@Sriram:
From some remote angle this might be as bad as we feel-Many people are desparate to travel-they sleep on floor or wherever there is space. So it might be kind to such people to accomodate them somehow, even if it means inconvenience to others. If I and you happen to be those few who could get a berth only because of this system, we’ll probably thank Indian Railways for this.

But given the indian population this is no permanent solution.

enidhi said:
Dec 05, 2007 08:49 AM

Rohit, Still low cost airlines cost 10 times second class train fare, so there’ll be significant number of passengers who cant afford it.

enidhi said:
Dec 05, 2007 08:51 AM

@ Kurman:

Agreed...

We ’ll wait and see...

Thanks all for your rating and comments.

Nidhi
spikeguard Star Writer said:
Dec 05, 2007 11:48 PM

Nidhi,

Unless they make the bogies in a square shape, I do not think this will be feasible. That space (which is 2S x 2B) is already short in the berths and I feel claustrophobic when I sleep in the upper berth as the bogie is curved at the top.

review was very nice and thanks for sharing and discussing this topic which is more important and directly affecting all of us.

!! Spike !!

enidhi said:
Dec 06, 2007 09:18 AM

Spike,

Your concern is verymuch true.

. . . . . . .

Nidhi
vishalvkale01 Star Writer said:
Dec 20, 2007 04:38 PM

Hi Enidhi...

You are absolutely correct... I speak from bitter experience. My wife had a 3 ac reservation nagpur to indore... the seating was as you say. It is being implemented in stages, and is indeed e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y uncomfortable
Regards,

Vishal

enidhi said:
Dec 22, 2007 12:53 PM

Vishal,
Thanks for sharing that info...

Anyone any photos ?

Vijjy said...

This is the weirdest and sadistic idea the railway authorities ever got. I travelled on the side upper berth of this Side-3-berth coach and it damn gave me claustrophobic feeling all the night with the coach roof very close to you. Besides if you observed the middle berth is hung by thin leather belts that makes you ( if you are slightly overweitht) think twice whether to get on to the berth or not. Unless Railways get a jolt from Consumer organisations this Lallu mark tricks will continue to pester us.
Vijjy
Hyderabad

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Vijjy,

Thanks for sharing your experience. I have travelled a bit of late around Delhi and South Indian trains but couldn't locate this new design bogies...was thinking may be railways is going slow on this...

Is IRCTC and other reservation systems updated to this new seating layout? Any different names for boagies of this kind?

Let me know if you're aware.

thanks again.

vinod said...

To book your ticket log on to http://www.indiantrains.org/

The better way to search Indian trains looks great and it open fast, no pop-up, user friendly. Every information in a single page. This concept is good and some of the features like calendar, train running day has not come in a single website in this reviews. the most important features i have seen in this site that if the user does not know the station code then also he can see all the trains and it is only website which have a drop menu box for the important station from where you can choose the station name and also it has a date calendar from you can choose the date and it show the running day of the train so that you can know which day of the week this train is running. the other most important feature I have seen in this website that it show the train which does not have the reservation coach for the benefit of the user and they are showing the passenger train also which is also not available in any website. This site will enable the users to search train route and compare fares of most of the trains in India.

Anonymous said...

its juss minting people, when they hardly had a choice, I been thru that torture recently, unfortunately we dont have a choice to say opinion, unless and of course some one filed a PIL in court

Narain said...

indiantrains.org you can check the ticket availability and book the tickets

The Self-Proclaimed Wordsmith said...

Hmm, here's a suggestion - how about adding more coaches to the trains?

Saithilak said...

There is very very less probability that majority of people switch to low cost airlines just due to this implementation! For millions of people, trains are life blood.

This idea is a bad one. Indian railways, with huge cash reserves, thanks to Lalu, should be looking to improve passenger convenience and instead it is doing the other way round. Just for a example, the Indian railways with very long history of operating trains, has yet to introduce an efficient & clean toilet system in trains.

Indian railways, in the name of modernization planning to introduce internet access to trains. This is good. But, it is better to provide the basic things first. Indian Railways, which has no competition, plays with its own rules.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Vinod and Narain

your site is good enough, but Stop promoting your site here pls.


@Anon: OK

@SPW: Yes, good idea.

@ Saithilak: Yes, I agree. This just adds to many of our inconveniences- I think Indians will adopt to tolerate this and move on...

Sarvesh said...

Interesting Srini !! First hand account of the new berths :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Sarvesh

Rajesh Kumar said...

Absolutely terrible arrangement.

Nikhil Narayanan said...

This is a really stupid move.
So the extra side guy would sit in the main coupe and sleep in the side.

One side will have 3 ppl sitting, the other side will have 4.
I am sure this idea was given by some intern and no one beyond that can be this idiotic.

No pros, really dumb move.

-Nikhil

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@ Rajesh and Nikhil

Thanks for expressing your thoughts.

what_ever said...

To add my two pence here:
This move will be implemented only in Sleeper Class and AC 3 Tier - I doubt passengers who travel by these classes will shift to low-cost airlines, seeing the price difference. I will clarify some doubts raised previously:

(a) Can more coaches be added to trains instead of introducing Side-Middle berths(SMBs)?

Depends. The maximum length for a passenger train is usually 24 coaches (at the most 25 coaches). Platforms are not equipped to handle longer trains. Most popular trains (Which see high waiting-lists and occupancy levels throughout the year) are already 24 coaches in length. So it's unlikely that increasing the number of coaches is a feasible solution until platforms are lengthened - and this brings a fresh set of problems in itself.

(b) Have IRCTC and reservation counters been updated on new seat/berth layouts?

As of now, side middle berths have been installed on very few trains. Most trains have a mix of old (non side-middle berth) and new (side-middle berth) coaches. Very few trains have fully side-middled coaches. Those trains have been updated in IRCTC's database. Most of the time though when your coach has SMB your seat numbers printed on your ticket and on the reservation chart are different.

How does one avoid the SMB menace?
If you're rich, travel by First/Second AC or fly. If you're not so well off, then just pray that you're not alloted an SMB!

Vishal said...

GUys good news...the third side birth is set to go!! atleast they wont be fitted in any new coaches.

Djayriaan said...

Darn it!! Such a stupid idea...Lalu shld have tried travelling in one of these...N he did dis with d 3tier a/c too. He shld realize dat everyone is not a bihari (No offence, its in terms of adjustment). We dont have time or the energy to quarrel with fellow passengers on seat allotment...The alternatives which i see are...
1>increasing the no of coaches
2>why not bring back those old first class train(without a/c)
3>double decker coaches
4>alternate trains like garib raths to only have this system...Spare the existing!!

more might be der but dese are a few!!
The point is give us a choice. Its high time d govt gave a thought on the 'NOT SO AAM AADMI'...Just because we weren't so unfortunate to face too many hardships...It doesn't mean they have to make us face them...Please understand!!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Whatever,
yes, length of platform also should be considered while adding new coaches, engine power also comes into play if more coaches are added. But one or two coaches can be added, though it may mean a little inconvenience to few.

Regarding the last point, I guess IRCTC offers berth preference-so those who book early will have high chances of getting their preferred berths.

Vishal,
Source of your information?

Djay,
Well, Lalu's days are gone. Its Mamta's time now. Let us see how she drives Indian railways.

Thanks all

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