Travelling in First AC in Indian Railways LHB coach for the first time

I moved around to see what was different about this coach & came across something that I was witnessing for the first time on a train in India.

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This is a report of my first ever travel in First AC in an LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch) coach. What will unfold in the next few posts is something one would never have imagined in the Indian Railways. Read on to find out.

How did this travel happen?

I was asked to travel at short notice to a destination I’ve never been to – Bhavnagar in Gujarat. While most would have happily engaged a cab and done the short 200km drive there, I tried out something different – decided to take a train that would take approx. 3 hours more in view of the extra distance by rail, and this would probably be at the cost of spoiling part of my night’s sleep. I took the chance, nevertheless.

Risks involved

  • In view of the rains, I could get drenched while boarding or alighting the autorickshaw or cab to the railway station(s)
  • The train could get delayed, and that would spoil my night’s sleep
  • I could get snoring co-passengers for company

How did I mitigate the risks?

  • Carried a thin raincoat – to give just that protection from showers should it pour
  • Tracked the on-time performance of this train – it was a reliable w.r.t keeping time
  • Snoring co-passengers – well, I carried a pair of ear plugs and a wollen head band (which I normally do) while travelling in overnight trains

The plan is cast

I managed to get the solitary berth in First AC in the overnight Bandra(T) – Bhavnagar Express, which, very recently was blessed with brand new 2022 built LHB coaches. While I am a huge fan of the older coaches, the LHB ones, although much much safer, are not as comfortable as the older ones.

The train arrives on time

The train rolled onto the station on time, and it, fortunately, wasn’t raining. The First AC coach was right in the front, three coaches behind the WAP7 locomotive and I was in without fuss. I moved to Cabin A and there I was, happy to see that nobody else was sleeping there (almost invariably, whenever I’ve boarded a train at an intermediate station, I’ve always encountered some passenger sleeping, whom I’ve had to wake up and ask to move to his/her original berth.

First impressions

  • What I found different in the LHB First AC was that one enters the coach, and almost immediately enters the cabin area via a narrow door. The older coaches would sport a small passage before one opens the door leading to the walkway along the various cabins. Now, to accommodate more berths per coach, every inch of space has been used.
  • The LHB coaches can get real cold thanks to the horribly designed perforated plate to distribute air from the roof. Passengers sleeping on the top berths better come dressed like Eskimos, unless one wants to leave the train frozen.

No blankets or pillows were provided on this train; I’d already brought my bedding so there was no issue.

Time to settle down and doze off

I settled down quickly and then dozed off. The coach was mighty cold – the temperature must have been set at 15-16 degrees C to probably cool the fat ones sleeping on the lower berths.

Good Morning!

It was approx. 6:30am when I got up, and found that the train was running approx. 15 minutes late. After a quick round of freshening up, I moved around the coach to see what was so different about the First AC in the LHB avatar. Most of the First AC in the railways hadn’t changed but there was something new.

Exploring the coach

The premium-looking passage via the cabins and coupes – shut the door and it becomes one’s private room

Steps to get onto the upper berths – found them too un-ergonomic. No grabrail provided to hold on to while climbing up

A dangerous claw to hold the upper berth when folded towards the side – the “claw”, although sharp isn’t required. Why would the berth need to be folded up anyways? No idea.

Upper berth – sample. Wide enough for comfortable travel

Tables placed in a cabin – to help passengers dine in comfort

The best place to be in the Indian Railways – a First AC Coupe

Odour Controller – something I’m seeing for the first time. Is this to control toxic gases that emanate in the cabin in the mornings?

Volume control for speakers – yet to listen to music on a train

The Odour Controller, Speaker, Volume controller and safety chain – all in one frame

Wide lobby near the doors

Squeaky clean washroom

And now, the unbelievable in the Indian Railways – an only bath with an AO Smith water heater

Continue reading vigsom’s travel experience for BHPian comments, insights and more information.

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