The Indian Railways recently launched a pilot project of fitting “baby berths” on the side of lower main berths of the Lucknow Mail to make the journey of those travelling with infants and toddlers more comfortable.
According to officials, plans will be drawn to expand the concept to other trains based on the feedback of passengers on the “new product”.
The “baby berth”, which are hinged to the lower main berths, can be folded and secured with a stopper when not in use.
On the AC-3 coach of Lucknow Mail, two “baby berths” of 770 mm in length, 255 mm in width and 76.2 mm in height were fitted to berth number 12 and 60 of the second cabins on both ends of coaches on 27 April.
Industrialist Anand Mahindra took notice of it through a video and shared the same on Twitter. He also appreciated Union railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw for the effort and said that this is the sort of ‘human-centric’ design that will help Indian Railways differentiate itself.
“This is just how I would like to see Indian Railways differentiate itself globally: through ‘human-centric’ design. @AshwiniVaishnaw Given your education & experience, a lot is expected of you. But wonderful to see you lead with both head AND heart! (sic),” Mahindra wrote on Twitter.
Vaishnaw replied to this by saying: “Look forward to more human-centric design ideas.”
The conversation did not end there and Mahindra appreciated the minister for his swift response.
“Sounds good. Appreciate your swift response. We’ll look forward to those ideas with great anticipation!” he wrote.
About ‘baby berths’
Officials said the final design of the berth will be an improved one – probably covered on both sides and with padding on railings.
An official of the Northern Railway said that after they get more feedback for the experiment, they will allow passengers too book the same through the Centre for Railway Information System.
“This has been done on a trial basis and will be expanded once we get positive feedback from passengers. Once we try it out more and record the feedbacks, we will put the necessary details on CRIS (Centre for Railway Information Systems) where it can be booked on request,” said the official.
“The (booking) system will be like the one we currently use to offer senior citizens lower berths. So, once, a passenger says yes to travelling with a child, we will offer the berth to them. However, it is now at a nascent stage,” he added.
Currently, there is no mechanism to book the lower berth for women who are travelling with infants.
According to news agency PTI, once this facility is expanded and commercialised, ladies using it would have to pay a higher fare for the service.
The railways now charge the full fare for a child of five to 12 years. Earlier it was 50% of the fare.