New Delhi, Nov 16 (PTI) Dismissing reports of a shortage of berths for passengers opting for non-AC coaches, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Thursday said there has been a nearly three-fold increase in the number of special train trips this festive season as compared to last year.
The railways is operating 6,754 additional train trips this festive season between October 1 and December 31 to clear the rush of passengers as compared to 2,614 in the same period last year, he said.
Till date 2,423 trips have been completed and the remaining trips will be made in the coming days, the minister said.
"Every year we do a very serious planning to make arrangements for passengers for Diwali and Chhath. We monitor the reservation and waiting list trends three months before the beginning of the festive season and take a call on making arrangements for the additional train trips," Vaishnaw said during an interaction with journalists.
The railways also takes into account last year's passenger figures in the planning process.
All these factors suggested that this festive season the railways would expect a huge rush and plans were made accordingly, he said.
According to Vaishnaw, 36 lakh people have travelled till date from the beginning of the festive season and the number is approximately double that of last year.
Railway sources said that more people are travelling this festive season as compared to last year due to better economic situation.
They said the railways has made extraordinary efforts not only for running additional train trips but handling passenger rush at prominent railway stations such as New Delhi and Mumbai.
Vaishnaw dismissed many news reports that the number of sleeper coaches are being reduced in trains leading to problems for passengers opting for non-AC berths.
He said there is a standard composition of coaches in a train since the time new LHB coaches were introduced.
According to the standard practice, a train usually has six to seven sleeper coaches, four general, one or nil AC 1st class, one or nil pantry, two AC II, six AC III coaches, one power car and a guard coach, Vaishnaw said.
He emphasized that there is no change in the standard coach composition in a train.
To negate the reports of a shortage of non-AC coaches, the railways released a statement on Wednesday saying that as much as 95.3 per cent of the total 390.2 crore railway passengers between April and October 2023 travelled in general and sleeper classes, while just 4.7 per cent were in AC coaches.
It said that the railways registered a significant increase in the number of general and sleeper class passengers between April and October this year compared to the corresponding period last year. PTI JP SMN