The railways have planned to convert all local trains on Mumbai’s suburban train network to air-conditioned (AC) trains.
The decision was taken by the Railway Board; the apex body of all zonal railways, after consulting Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation(MRVC), Central and Western Railway officials on Tuesday. The fares of the local trains are also likely to be reduced and will be based on the fare structure of metros. The railway ministry has also put the plans to run semi-AC local trains (in which a few AC coaches were to be attached to local trains in addition to current first and second class coaches) on hold, according to information.
“We will be procuring all fully AC local trains for the Mumbai suburban railway network under the Mumbai Urban Transport Projects (MUTP),” said Ravi Agarwal, Chairman and Managing Director (CMD), MRVC.
The MRVC will be buying 283 new AC local trains in the coming days. The Railways ministry has given its approval for the procurement of AC local trains but the time-frame for the same is not decided yet, said Railway officials.
Currently, Mumbai has nine AC trains running on a suburban network. However, the response from the commuters is lukewarm due to fare which is higher even than first-class coaches and poor frequency of trains. Railway authorities had planned semi-AC trains comprising first, second and AC coaches to tide over the problem of poor frequency. However, the Railway Board is now planning to covert the entire fleet of trains into AC trains. “The time-frame for the same has not been decided but it has been decided that every new local train that is bought now for Mumbai suburban train network would be an AC train,” said a senior railway official.
In the case of the fare of these trains, the Railway Board is looking at the fare structure of metros run in Delhi and Mumbai.
“The fare structure of the suburban AC local trains will be based on metro fare structure by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority(MMRDA) or the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). The MRVC had suggested the fare structure of AC local trains on par with metro fares in Mumbai and Delhi,” said the official.
The semi AC local train plan of the railways has also reportedly been put on hold. “The implementation of the semi AC local trains involves a lot of technicalities and there are chances that it cannot be feasible. There was a discussion with the railway ministry and the project was put on hold.” said a senior official who was a part of the meeting.
The Central and Western Railway has recently undertaken a passenger survey on the AC local trains and had submitted the response from commuters to the railway ministry. Passengers had asked for a reduction in the fares of the AC local train.
The first suburban AC local train was operated on the Western Railway on December 25, 2017. The train service is operational between Churchgate and Virar railway stations.
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