Mumbai: MRVC calls for ideas for fuss-free shift to AC locals
Five AC locals for the Western Railway have already arrived in Mumbai and are under various stages of trials
As plans are now in place to manufacture 250 Air-Conditioned (AC) local trains to convert the entire fleet of Mumbai local trains into AC ones under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP), the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC), the official railway think tank and coordinating body has called for proposals on how to make the historic shift happen with least inconvenience to commuters.
Five AC locals for the Western Railway have already arrived in Mumbai and are under various stages of trials.
A senior railway official explained that the problem begins at the level of the fare. The AC train's fare is much higher than the existing local train fares, even higher than the first-class. This does not allow regular commuters to board the train unless they buy an exclusive ticket/pass for the AC train. So the more AC trains one introduces, the more the regular commuters are left out, leading to protests and objections of the train eating into regular service.
"This is a delicate issue. Any change or shift in train patterns or changes with the existing timetable is always very sensitive for Mumbai suburban commuters and it leads to widespread protests and litigation. A smart way needs to be found to introduce the AC trains without disturbing the existing services at any level," he added.
"The objective of the study is to develop a migration strategy for conventional local trains to AC local trains in an efficient manner from the operation point of view with least inconvenience to commuters," MRVC's proposal said.
The nine-point plan calls for consultants to study the existing data/records regarding present traffic's origin-destination matrix, commuter profile, comfort and ease of travel, peak-/non-peak-hour travel, etc, provide a year-wise induction plan for AC locals, to study the existing time table, train links, stabling plan and operational strategy, earmarking different accommodations such as Ladies, Senior Citizens, Divyangjans, etc. The consultants must also study the workings of 15- and 16-car trains and develop an overall strategy.
It was first reported by mid-day in 2017, that former Managing Director of MRVC, Dr P C Sehgal had suggested that the railways should split the AC trains instead of forcing a full AC train on commuters. As of now, as first reported by mid-day, the WR plans to convert one of its 15-car trains into a partial AC train.
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