Western Railway is planning to introduce the long-awaited airconditioned train between Churchgate and Borivli from September; initially they will ply four times a day — during morning and evening peak hours
With the Metro and Monorail about to kick off, hopefully, a fresh era of cool travel for Mumbaikars, the bumbling local with its oftbroken fans seems to be chugging to catch up.
The railway authorities are contemplating rolling out the first air- conditioned local train by September this year, fares for which are currently being discussed.
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Sharat Chandrayan, chief public relations officer, Western Railway, said, “We are still looking at the September deadline for the AC local train.” As per plans, the first such local would be operated on the Churchgate- Borivli route on the Western Railway (WR).
Sources said that initially, there would only be one such 12- car train, which would ply daily.
“We are considering running four services a day, two in the morning and two in the evening, though the exact timing needs to be decided,” said a senior railway official.
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The most likely time slot for the services is around 8 am from Borivli, and around 6 pm from Churchgate — so they match the passengers’ peakhour schedule. The 12- coach AC rake would be vestibular — which means one can walk through it end to end, without coming upon any partitions.
The ladies’ compartments would be marked on the outside, in the same manner it is now, though it wouldn’t be walled off; officials expect men simply not to enter it. Much like the Delhi Metro, there would be no first or second class, or a segregated luggage compartment. The trains will have closed doors, and they would move only when all the doors are shut.
Special provisions would be made for physically challenged people, though these details have not been adequately worked out yet.
Easy travel, more cash
The Railway Board in Delhi is in the process of deciding the final tariffs for this special local, and the fares will likely exceed the current first- class ticket prices.
“ It’s a premium service so people wouldn’t mind paying more than that is charged for first class,” said a Western Railway official on the condition of anonymity.
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Presently, the minimum fare for the first- class compartment is R 45, which increases in proportion to the distance.
Sources said the AC train fares would top this by at least 10 per cent.
The authorities are considering various options and are busy poring over the fares charged for particular Metro routes or inter- city AC trains, and adjusting them for travel distance and passenger traffic.
WR officials said the train might run only on the fast line between Churchgate and Borivli, with a minimum of halts.
“This is a good reason for people to agree to pay the considerably higher fares. We will decide on the number of halts at stations depending on the demand,” said another official.
Just chill: The 12-car AC local will most probably run during the 8 am (Borivli) and 6 pm (Churchgate) peak-hour slot
However, some officials view the commuting charge a tad exorbitant, and claim that it is possible to compose a cheaper matrix of tariffs. But he added that the final call rests with the Railway Board.
As far as freeloaders go, there are no fool- proof measures to check the incidence of ticket- less travel.
Authorities will, however, depute three or four ticket checkers onboard the train to monitor passengers. There will be more such officials on platforms.
Beyond this, it seems unfeasible, for now, to institute measures to ensure legitimate travel at all times, considering the sheer volume of expected commuters, officials said.
Rs 120: The cost of a first-class ticket for the 33-km Churchgate-Borivli stretch
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