The Indian Railways on Thursday refuted reports that it was going to discontinue the sleeper class on mail and express trains and said that the aim behind introducing three-tier coaches was to make journey of passengers more affordable and comfortable.
Addressing a virtual press conference, Railway Board Chairman and CEO V.K. Yadav said: "We will continue with sleeper class coaches. There's absolutely no ambiguity related to it."
Noting that the railways plans to increase the speed of trains on its network and soon, trains on the New Delhi-Mumbai and New Delhi-Kolkata routes will run at 130 kmph, while work to upgrade tracks to enable trains run at 160 kmph has also started, he, however, said that with the increased speeds, passengers in sleeper class coaches will face difficulties and discomfort.
"So, we have decided to make a new AC-3 tier coach which will be introduced next year. Our aim is to make AC travel more affordable for the passengers and fare will be between that of AC-3 and sleeper class," he said.
The Indian Railways on Sunday said that it plans to introduce AC-3 tier coaches in mail and express trains, giving rise to speculations that it has planned to do away with the sleeper class coaches.
The announcement led to widespread criticism.
The CEO also said that the freight revenue up to October 13 this year has witnessed a jump of 11 per cent as compared to the same period last year. He also said that the automobile loading has gained momentum and witnessed a jump of over 68 per cent as the railways has loaded 126 automobile rakes.
He also said that the national transporter is currently operating 682 special trains and 20 clone trains.
"Apart from this, 416 festival special trains will also be run from October 20 to November 30," he said.
He also said that a new timetable will be implemented when regular train services resume but it is difficult to tell a time period when it will come into effect.