Highlighting the dilapidated condition of the Ahmedabad-Mumbai Tejas Express, the IRCTC has written to the Railways so that a Vande Bharat rake can be allocated to run the corporate train. Malfunctioning bio-toilets and LCD screens, and water leakage in coaches are some of the issues red-flagged by the IRCTC since July in its letters to the Railway Board and the Western Railways, the zone in which the train runs, urging them to help fix the same.
“One of the Vande Bharat rakes be kindly allocated for the corporate train Tejas Express with a composition of 16 coaches," an Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) letter to the Railway Board and the Western Railways read. “This (providing Vande Bharat train) will not only put an end to bevy of passenger complaints being received especially during the monsoon season for rake deficiencies rather it shall also solve all the woes of the mechanical department both in maintenance as well as flexibility in spares management," it added.
A rake is a line of coupled passenger coaches or freight wagons or railcars (excluding the locomotive) that typically move together. The letters also said that the train was being maintained on an “ad hoc basis in a piecemeal way" which is not benefitting the premium train service.
“The non-maintenance of coaches has resulted in deteriorating the condition of the coaches and thereby tarnishing the brand Tejas and arising complaints from passengers travelling on board," another letter read. In the latest letter earlier this month, the IRCTC raised the issue of no support for the maintenance of high-end equipment on board by the original equipment manufacturers (OEM) after the expiry of the annual maintenance contract (AMC).
It said the IRCTC was running the train despite the “rake being provided to IRCTC and the issues of maintenance being faced on are current basis". “Even the rake allotted is reportedly a pilot manufacture of Tejas rake by RCF (Railway Coach Factory) which was not very successful; all subsequent Tejas rakes running now have been manufactured at MCF (Modern Coach Factory). There is no OEM support," it said.
Among other incidents in the IRCTC-operated Ahmedabad-Mumbai Tejas Express referred to in the letters is the collapse of a ceiling panel, which occurred twice in the last year, in which passengers suffered head injuries. Other issues highlighted include recurring deficiencies like choked toilets, leakages from roof, electrical panel faults, faulty infotainment systems, non-functional GPS and faulty coach entry main doors which are either not opening or opening on both sides. The train is maintained by the Western Railway in Ahmedabad.
The latest letter comes in the wake of a slew of communique from the rail PSU to both the Railway Board as well as the Western Railways, asking them to rethink the timings of the soon-to-be-launched Vande Bharat Express between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. The IRCTC has said that the competing Vande Bharat train would eat into the revenue of the Tejas Express running between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. The Railways is scheduled to manufacture 75 Vande Bharat trains by August 2023. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to launch the third Vande Bharat train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai on September 30.