Mumbai AC local: A dozen reason to dislike the new train
A decade after it was proposed, the first air-conditioned local train rolls into the city on Monday to all-round cheer from citizens
Mumbai may never have a white Christmas, but it was certainly the coolest Xmas for the lucky commuters who experienced the very first AC local train journey in the city yesterday. But not everyone is looking forward to the new service; in fact, some passengers got pretty hot under the collar after their regular train got cancelled to make way for the AC local.
The AC local made its maiden journey yesterday from Borivli to Churchgate, nearly 20 months after the Rs 54-crore rake first arrived in Mumbai. The train made a total of five trips yesterday and will go six daily runs till December 29. Starting from January 1, the local will make 12 daily trips.
The new AC train has automatic doors and walkthrough compartments with a single class and fare for all passengers.Pics/Suresh Karkera
While many cheered the train on, there were also quite a few grumbles among commuters who were annoyed to discover that 12 of the regular services had been cancelled so the time slots could be given to the AC train. "Everyone is excited about the AC train, but they are probably unaware that the 12 AC services will replace the existing, non-AC locals used by thousands of daily commuters. There's no telling how many will suffer as a result of this move," said Mandar Modak, a commuter who was less than impressed by the Western Railway's (WR) planning.
"My 7:54 am Borivli-Churchgate train has been cancelled, and instead the AC train will run at that time. But can everyone afford the AC fares? What is the option for them then? Even those with first class tickets or passes will not be allowed to travel by AC train; they will have to buy the AC ticket, which is 1.3 times more expensive than the first class fare," Modak added.
Several commuters have criticised WR, stating that the AC local should have been introduced as additional services, instead of eating into the existing timetable. Passengers whose favourite trains have been cancelled will now have to plan their commute accordingly, and either take the local that comes before or after the AC service. But with thousands of displaced commuters expected to simply wait for the next non-AC service, railway stations and trains are bound to witness overcrowding. It will be particularly bad in the peak hours, with the overcrowding getting worse in a cascading effect.
"It will definitely lead to overcrowding. Imagine what happens when a Virar fast is cancelled in peak evening hours - this is what will happen every single day from now on," predicted another passenger, Akshay Marathe. He added, "The second sore point is operation on weekends. The AC train may not have that many takers in the weekend, but it will still result in the cancellation of 12 non-AC services that people could have used."
Officials said that they had introduced 32 new services in the new timetable in October, so they have no more slots for additional AC services. "We have worked the timetable in such a way that minimal regular services will be affected. We also did not want commuters from Virar to be deprived of the AC service," a WR spokesperson said.
Anil Kumar Gupta, WR general manager, said they are open to all suggestions and that the first train runs are meant to invite public feedback. "We are awaiting feedback; this train is for the public. We will soon create a link on our website for feedback on the AC train. The changes will be incorporated soon, as more and more AC rakes arrive," he said.
Railway officials said that nine more rakes are being manufactured, and the city will get its second AC train in nine months. LC Trivedi, chief mechanical engineer at the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai, where the rakes are being assembled, said, "The feedback from the first train will be collated to improve the workings and set-up of the next trains."
List of problems and suggestion on Day 1
>> Tickets for train not available on UTS App till end of day
>> Doors do not open immediately after the train halts
>> No separate luggage compartment
>> No mention of AC train on station indicators
>> No segregation of ladies coach
>> Total confusion about ladies coach etc nobody knew it existed. It also needs physical barriers to segregate.
>> No announcement to inform commuters about AC train and special charges
>> No announcement before doors opening or closing
>> Seats are similar to those in second-class coaches
>> No CCTV cameras.; officials say these will be added
>> Tickets not available on UTS App
>> No separate luggage compartment
>> Ladies coach may require physical barriers
>> The door tone is too feeble
>> Poor seat quality; no CCTV cameras
Single fare from Borivli to Churchgate
No. of AC services that will run daily
Rs 54 cr
Cost of the air-conditioned rake
No. of months ago the rake arrived in city
Mumbai youth arrested for performing stunts on local train