India's premium trains -- Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express -- are all set to sport a designer look with the Railways assuring plush comforts to woo back its high-end clientele from the low-budget airlines.
Passengers travelling in these two high-end trains will no longer be greeted by leaking toilets, shoddy cuisine and dirty bedrolls. Instead, they will be offered new upholstery, better interiors, squeaky clean bedrolls, well-maintained toilets, improved ventilation and better illumination.
The Railways would also use polyurethane paint to enhance the quality of rakes and reduce the cost of re-painting. The trains will have a stainless steel body and better grab handles.
As part of its plan to undergo image transformation, the Railways has sought the expertise of the Ahmedabad-based National Institute of Design (NID) to provide a new look to the upholstery and coach interiors of the two trains.
The first such refurbished train, a Rajdhani Express, will leave New Delhi on Tuesday evening from Nizamuddin station for Bangalore, a Northern Railway official told UNI.
Telecom service provider AirTel has spruced up the exterior of the train through vinyl-wrapping, and the company has been given space to advertise its brand.
The Railways will also benefit economically from the initiative as AirTel will bear the maintenance cost of the passenger facilities in the Nizamuddin-Bangalore Rajdhani Express.
"This is yet another example of Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative for substantially upgrading passenger amenities and it will help Indian Railways undergo an image transformation and sport a corporate look," the official said.
In the coming days, the Railways will introduce the new look Rajdhani Express trains linking Delhi with Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram.
Initially, the Railways has decided to redesign only those trains which originate from Delhi. Thus, around 10 Rajdhani and eight Shatabdi trains would be refurbished.
"If the initiative turns out to be a successful venture, we will introduce these facilities in more Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains and also in super fast trains," he said.
The official pointed out that NID is also designing trains for Mumbai suburban services. NID had also been asked to work on a global positioning system (GPS) for optimising the use of its coaches and ensuring a rational usage pattern.