Aware of the extreme overcrowding on local trains, railway authorities are working out modalities to accommodate suburban rail passengers on the much-awaited air-conditioned trains. With nearly 75 lakh people thronging the suburban locals daily, railway officials are planning to introduce vestibuled trains to facilitate faster and easier boarding and alighting.
Senior railway officials claim that the present design of suburban rail coaches does not suit the cause for AC trains, where the doors have to be closed. Authorities fear that if the closing of doors were delayed at the platforms, the circulation of cool air would be affected. Hence, a vestibuled coach meets the requirement wherein doorways on either side of the compartment allow passengers to alight at stations. Moreover, it will allow access to the next compartment through the gangway connection, which is limited in the present suburban rakes.
“We are looking at the possibility of having vestibular rakes for air conditioned coaches, which increases the scope for operating them in Mumbai,” said an official from Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC). Railway officials also said that the city’s commuters’ fondness for hanging out of compartments even when trains are not crowded adds to their concerns. “It is very difficult to provide air-conditioning inside local trains if doors aren’t shut,” said the railway official.
The railways are also toying with the idea of forced ventilation at the doors that would let out cool air via the ducts, similar to the ones found installed in shopping malls. On Thursday, Western Railway (WR) officials said that the designs for AC trains are underway at Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai.
Not so cool
Meanwhile, the wait for the first air-conditioned local train has been delayed by at least a year. “The AC train could begin its actual run not before September or another year from now,” said Hemant Kumar, general manager, WR. The railways have already procured two new futuristic trains for the suburban rail network system out of the total 72 rakes under MUTP phase-II. However, the officials clarified that none of these 72 rakes will be air-conditioned.
>> During the presentation of the last rail budget, the former Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had announced that Mumbai suburban trains will get AC coaches by the end of 2013. But, it was recently announced that the trains would be delayed.
>> AC trains were to be part of the proposed Rs 25,000-crore Oval Maidan-Virar Elevated corridor project, which now hanging in the balance
>> They have also been proposed to be used in the Rs-14,000 crore CST-Panvel Fast corridor, which too is in the planning stage
Did you know?
In 2009, the world famous toy-trains in Darjeeling received vestibule coaches. This train is referred as ‘toy’ because of its relatively small size and owing to the snail’s pace at which it chugs in comparison to other trains hauled by powerful diesel or electric locomotives