Mumbai AC local: Add three AC cars to existing trains, says former Rail Vikas boss

Updated: Dec 29, 2017, 12:44 IST | Rajendra B. Aklekar

Former MRVC boss suggests win-win solution to ensure AC train doesn't disrupt regular services

The air-conditioned (AC) local is here, but what would be a cooler way to make it more accessible to commuters in the absence of slots to run more rakes? Former managing director of Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) Dr P C Sehgal has a solution: adding three AC coaches to the existing 12-coach trains. Sehgal presented this idea to Western Railways' general manager A K Gupta on Thursday.

Currently, the AC locals are run in place of existing rush-hour services, a move that has angered certain commuters. File pic
Currently, the AC locals are run in place of existing rush-hour services, a move that has angered certain commuters. File pic

Sehgal told Gupta about his plan, saying that the railways should think of adding three air-conditioned coaches to existing 12-car local trains. This will neither disturb commuters' existing pattern of services and nor their coach alignment. "I have been connected with the Mumbai suburban railway since 1975 and we have tried out a host of experiments. [But] commuters get very unhappy when their routine is disturbed, even in small things like seating arrangements, change of coach alignment and change of timings," Sehgal told mid-day.

View pictures - Mumbai's first AC local: Things that are just not right about the train

AC locals

Double benefit
"The AC train is all welcome, but one should not play with regular commuters' scheduled trains. During my time, we had made the entire Churchgate-Virar section 15-car compatible. We can convert the existing fast-line corridor into a 15-car train one by adding three AC coaches at one end of the train. This will ensure that the existing trains remain in the scheduled timetable and Mumbai gets the luxury quotient of an AC train," he added. Presently, a handful of 15-car local train services run on WR after they were first introduced November 21, 2009.

"The introduction of 15 coach trains is feasible and requires approximately R1,000 crore to augment the composition of trains from 12 to 15 cars on the fast tracks of both Central and Western Railway," he said. It was during Dr Sehgal's tenure at MRVC that the real planning for the AC local first began. He is credited to have significantly completed the first phase of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project that introduced the Siemens locals to Mumbai and Kurla-Thane corridors.

WR stays mum
Responding to Sehgal's idea, WR's chief spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar said WR is only the implementing authority of any commuter service and it would not be appropriate to comment on this. The technical feasibility of any such proposal needs to be examined by the appropriate body in Indian Railways like the RDSO (Research, Design and Standards Organisation), he added. WR cannot add any additional services as of now since they just introduced 34 new services in October. Meanwhile, MRVC's current MD Prabhat Sahai said, "It makes more sense to have air-conditioned coaches to the existing set of trains instead of having a separate train."

Commuters protest AC local train
Commuters of the 12.24 pm Borivli-Churchgate local that has been running for 13 years staged a silent protest on Tuesday at Borivli station as their scheduled train has now been abruptly cancelled to be replaced by the AC local. "There is no fast local from Borivli after that one till late afternoon. The fast trains that arrive from Virar are crowded," said commuter Pandhari Mhaske. Another commuter Suraj Palecha said their regular fast train should be restored, and the AC train should be an additional service in some other slot, "It is unfair to close down our daily train for this fancy one. Not everyone can afford it every time."

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