Mangaluru: Train No.12685 Chennai-Mangaluru Superfast Express which had left Chennai Central at 5pm on 1 March 2016 reached Mangaluru Central Railway Station at 9.25am this morning with brand new 21 LHB coach rake. Similarly, the service of the same Train No.12685/12686 – Mangaluru-Chennai Superfast Express will leave Mangaluru Central at 4.20pm this evening with full LHB coach rake in it. This new LHB coach service -Chennai- Mangaluru SF Express was launched on 29 February from Chennai Central station.
Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches are the passenger coaches of Indian Railways that have been developed by Linke-Hofmann-Busch of Germany (renamed Alstom LHBGmbH in 1998 after the takeover by Alstom) and produced by Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala- Punjab. These coaches weigh relatively lighter, enabling the train to attain more speed. LHB coaches have the advantage of providing more safety and better traveling comfort to the passengers through improved cushioning effect. They have been used since 2000 on the Indian Broad Gauge (1676 mm network of Indian railways. Initially, 24 air conditioned coaches were imported from Germany for use in the Shatabdi Expresses, after which the Rail Coach Factory started manufacturing after technology transfer)
Speaking to Mangalorean.com, Senior Station Engineer said, ” The coaches are designed for an operating speed up to 160 km/h and could go up to 200 km/h. However, they have been tested up to 180 km/h. But on our tracks, the maximum speed used is only between 100-110km/h. Their length of 23.54 m and a width of 3.24 m means a higher passenger capacity, compared to conventional rakes (US: consists). The tare weight of the AC chair car was weighed as 39.5 tonnes.The train composes of one First Class AC LHB coach, two 2-tier AC LHB coaches, one 3-tier AC LHB coach, eleven Sleeper Class LHB coaches, four unreserved LHB coaches and two Luggage-cum-brake LHB vans-so the total number of LHB coaches in this train is 21″.
When asked with the engine driver/operator of the train no 12685 which arrived this morning, whether he would take a chance to run the train at 160 km/h, he quickly replied ” No way! Although these LHB coach rake can attain a speed between 160-180 km/hr, but that kind of speed is not suitable for our tracks. On this trip, I tried running the train between 90 km7h-106 km/h. Due to the light weight of the coaches, we can speed up the train faster than other trains”
LHB coaches are considered to be “anti-telescopic”, which means they do not get turned over or flip in case of a collision (chiefly head-on). These coaches are made of stainless steel and the interiors are made of aluminium which make them lighter as compared to conventional rakes. Each coach also has an “advanced pneumatic disc brake system” for efficient braking at higher speeds, “modular interiors” that integrate lighting into ceiling and luggage racks with wider windows. The improved suspension system of LHB coaches ensures more riding comfort for the passengers compared to conventional rakes.
The air conditioning system of the LHB coaches is of higher capacity compared to the older rakes and is controlled by a microprocessor which is said to give passengers better comfort than the older coaches during summer and winter seasons. They are relatively quieter as each coach produces a maximum noise level of 60 decibels while conventional coaches can produce 100 decibels.
It is learnt that the RCF began to manufacture other variants of LHB design like the air conditioned first class, AC 2 tier sleeper, AC 3 tier sleeper, hot buffet (pantry) car etc., from 2001 to 2002, and rolled out its first rake in December 2002. The first such rake was introduced for Mumbai-New Delhi Rajdhani Express in December, 2003. Up to March 2011, 997 LHB coaches were produced by the RCF. All of these coaches are being used in premier super fast express trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto Express and have been offering better passenger comfort. Soon, all the Duronto trains will be equipped with LHB coaches.
According to sources, Indian Railways have decided to replace the conventional air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned Integral Coach Factory made coaches with the LHB coaches in all the trains by the end of 2016. Presently LHB coaches are seen mostly in premium air-conditioned trains such as Rajdhani Express, Shatabdi Express and Duronto Express owing to high cost of manufacture but slowly non-air-conditioned trains like Poorva Express, Sampoorna Kranti Express, Purushottam Express , Karnavati Express , Shiv Ganga Express and Mahabodhi Express have also been upgraded with non-air-conditioned LHB coaches manufactured at Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, Punjab.