The Centre is reportedly planning to discontinue Garib Rath Express trains. Translated as the 'Poor Man's Chariot' this was touted to be the poor man's no-frills AC train. The government is planning to phase out the train and Railway Ministry has already ordered manufacturing of Garib Rath coaches to stop.
As per the media, Garib Rath trains will either be completely phased out or will be converted into mail or express trains. Sources cited in the report informed that Railway Ministry has already asked to stop making of new coaches for these trains.
The former railway minister, Mr. Lalu Yadav, had started the AC three-tier Garib Rath trains targeting the middle and lower-income classes in 2006. The objective was to make AC train travel affordable and economical for middle and lower-income groups. And the first 'Garib Rath' was flagged off from Saharsa in BIhar to Amritsar. The Railways has already replaced services of Garib Rath on Kathgodam-Jammu and Kathgodam-Kanpur route by Mail or Express trains.
The Rajasthan Chief Minister, Mr. Ashok Gehlot, said, 'If these reports are accurate then it would be a very inappropriate decision. These trains provide AC travelling facility to common people at affordable rates, it benefits them most.'
The move will make AC train travel costlier for people since a Delhi-Bandra Garib Rath ticket was priced at Rs 1,050 however, while the express ticket will now cost anywhere from Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,600. Garib Rath fares are less than two-thirds of those of air-conditioned classes in other trains, the distance between each seat or berth is less, the seats and berths are narrower and each coach has more seats and berths than in air-conditioned coaches.
These trains will now be replaced by 3-AC express trains. As of now, 26 pairs of Garib Rath trains are run by the Railways. Currently, the Garib Rath has 12 coaches, all air-conditioned. The new trains will have 16 coaches which will include General, Sleeper and AC coach.
While some expressed disappointment, others said Garib Rath was not as economical in the first place so this move might not be a bad decision.