What are "ICF" and "LHB" coaches?
You might encounter the terms "ICF coaches" and "LHB coaches" on my site apart from several other Indian Railway-centric websites. What do these terms mean, and how do they affect you?
[For those of you looking for a list of trains with LHB coaches, click here]
ICF stands for "Integral Coach Factory" which is one of the railways' main coach production plants. The Integral Coach Factory is located in Perambur near Chennai.
The ICF design refers to the conventional design of coaches seen across trains in India - indeed, of the many trains in the header images on my site. Here are a few pictures of ICF design coaches:
In 1999, the railways imported a set of coaches from Linke-Hoffman-Busch (Now a part of Alstom) for testing and use in India. After a few glitches, they slowly began to gain popularity. Today, LHB coaches are manufactured by the Rail Coach Factory (Kapurthala) under a Transfer of Technology agreement.
LHB coaches are characterised by a sleeker finish than ICF coaches, better suspension, sound reduction and ride quality, not to mention significantly larger windows that lack the heavy tinting seen in the most ICF AC coaches. They are also safer than ICF coaches in the event of an accident or collision. LHB coaches are longer than ICF coaches, and seat layouts in LHB and ICF coaches differ.
Here are some (not very good!) picture of LHB coaches.
There is very little to compare between the two in terms of passenger experience; LHB coaches are miles ahead. Compare the following:
(a) A conventional ICF AC Chair coach and an LHB AC Chair coach:
(b) The corridor of an ICF First AC Sleeper coach and its LHB equivalent:
After seeing these pictures, you might want to travel by a train that has LHB coaches. However, not too many trains operate with LHB coaches at the moment. Here is a list (not comprehensive) of trains that are LHB:
This list is currently being updated. Please check back later.
Please contact me if you find any errors in this list, or any trains that run with LHB that I've forgotten to mention.
Last updated on 25 September 2016.