First AC local train debuts in Mumbai: mid-day's verdict on how the ride was
mid-day reporters Rajendra B Aklekar and Pallavi Smart hop on the city's first ever AC local and find it a mixed bag
mid-day test drive Borivli station was buzzing with excitement on Christmas day, as citizens waited to board Mumbai's first AC train for its maiden journey to Churchgate.
The AC local made its maiden journey yesterday from Borivli to Churchgate. Pics/Suresh Karkera
The cool temperature, automatic doors and walkthrough compartments certainly made for a novel experience, but our reporters also couldn't help but notice that the train already bore a fatigued look from its endless trials, and was in a need of scrub and polish. And, despite the historic occasion, the brand new look of the train was marred by equipment and buckets strewn around in the coaches throughout the journey.
The coolest train ride in the city is coming soon to a station near you. Pics/Suresh Karkera
Off to a late start
The train flagged off from Borivli at 10:32 am, against the scheduled time of 10:20, after BJP ministers and leaders hijacked the function. They organised an impromptu inauguration that had not been announced earlier. In the meanwhile, although party functionaries announced that no one should get in the train unless they had a valid ticket, many got in to take selfies and then got trapped inside after the doors closed. It was smooth going once the train whooshed off towards Churchgate, with several passengers visibly enjoying the ride.
Dhirendra Tripathi, an LIC employee who travels daily from Borivli to Churchgate, skipped his regular train so he could get the AC local experience. "It does not really suit my office timings, but I wanted to experience this. If they introduce a service that works for my timings, I will be more than happy to take the Ac train to work every day," said Tripathi, who happily clicked selfies with the ticket checkers (TCs) and railway cops. He also photographed the novelties of the new train, such as the automatic doors, luggage holder, etc. Several families and senior citizens also hopped on for the ride. Haresh Parekh, a senior citizen and textile businessman, said, "There should be AC services during peak hours, so more people like us can use it for a convenient ride."
No barrier for women's compartment
For the women, it was a novel experience to enter the ladies coach and find, to their surprise, that there was no barrier between their compartment and the next.
Manoj Shah and his wife Ila and son Manan had heard about the launch of the AC train and planned their holiday around it, but were in for an unpleasant experience at the station. "We had plans to go to Bandra, so we planned our day to fit the train's timing. The timetable did not have any information about it, and people didn't seem too aware even at the station. When I approached the ticket window, I was shocked to hear that the tickets could not be cancelled later," he recalled. "I found out that when the train was late, many people demanded for a refund, but the officials turned them away," he added.
A passenger was caught travelling without a ticket on the very first day of the AC local's launch. The commuter was caught on the Churchgate-bound route and fined Rs 435.
Activists not impressed
Railway activist Rajiv Singal, who has been a member of the Railway Users Consultative Committees in both Central Railway and WR, claimed that the train would be "a failure due to institutional flaws." Another social activist Anil Galgali said he had written to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to urge him to allow first-class ticket holders to travel in the AC locals as well.
Number of passengers on Monday
Approximate earnings from AC train on Monday
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