MUMBAI: The railways has decided to reduce the number of confirmed berths in order to accommodate more passengers in sleeper and air-conditioned coaches under the `Reservation against Cancellation’ (RAC) category. This move will help carry more passengers on each train besides earning revenue for the railways.
A circular announcing this change in berth composition was issued by the railway board on December 14.
A senior railway official said that the number of berths will increase by four each in the sleeper (SL) coach and in third AC (3A) coaches besides two in second AC (2A) coaches.
Earlier, the number of RAC passengers allowed in the SL coach was10. It will now increase to 14. Likewise, the number of RAC passengers allowed in 3A was four which will now go up to eight. In 2A, the number will increase from four to six.
RAC passengers are provided sitting accommodation on lower side-berths and two persons can sit on one berth while each has to pay the full fare.
The official said that instructions have been issued to incorporate changes in the software so that the new RAC composition gets reflected in the system to be allotted to passengers by January 16.
A senior official said, “This move is likely to help the railways earn anywhere between Rs 250 crore and Rs 300 crore a year as the number of passengers traveling on authorized tickets is likely to increase.”
The flip side of this is that there will be virtually no chances of getting the confirmed berth at the time of preparation of chart for RAC and waitlisted tickets.
The officer said that at the time of preparation of the chart, RAC list is cleared first and then wait-listed tickets are taken up for confirmation
There are mixed reactions to this move initiated by the railway board. Kandivliresident Jayesh Vora said that more passengers in a coach will ensure that travel will not be as comfortable. “It will be as good as travelling in the general coach,” he said.
Kurla resident Neeraj Mane said, “It is good move as more people will get a chance to travel in a train though travel may not be comfortable. But for many destinations train is the best option as road transport to these places is very poor.
The railways has been trying to boost revenue by various means, including introduction of flexible fares in Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duranto class trains. It is also struggling to cope with passenger demand, especially during peak season.