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Mumbai: How MRVC crashed city’s AC train dreams

Updated on: 24 July,2023 07:14 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Rajendra B. Aklekar |

Tender for procurement of Vande Metro coaches is already delayed due to lack of initial funding; current delay is over need for further consultations

Mumbai: How MRVC crashed city’s AC train dreams

Officials said more consultations were required. File pic/Satej Shinde

Mumbaikars will now have to wait longer for AC local trains, thanks to ill planning by the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), which has now deferred the mega-multi-crore international tender that it had issued for procurement of 2,856 Vande Metro coaches till further advice, without any fresh date or deadline. 

Interestingly, the tender was floated without waiting for the result of the mandatory migration study–which is currently being conducted–and other consultations. 
Vande Metro coaches for Mumbai have been the pet project of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. The bids, nearly worth R20,000 crore, were to procure 238 trains of Vande Metro (suburban) under Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) 3 and 3A, in the next seven years and to build new train depots at Vangaon and Bhivpuri for their maintenance. MUTP projects are jointly funded by the state and the central government to upgrade the city’s rail network with new corridors and trains.

The tender for Vande Metro coaches has again been postponed due to the requirement of further consultations. File pic/Satej ShindeThe tender for Vande Metro coaches has again been postponed due to the requirement of further consultations. File pic/Satej Shinde

The tender had already been delayed due to lack of initial funding by the Maharashtra government and involvement of multiple stakeholders. It has now been postponed again due to the requirement of further consultations.

MRVC officials said consultations with various stakeholders are on and inputs of migration strategy study will also be taken into consideration, hence the deferment.

‘A tough task’

Officials said more consultations were required and converting all local trains into AC for Mumbai was a tough task. “The most important factor amid everything with the new AC local (now called Vande Metro trains) will be how all Mumbaikars will migrate from non-AC to AC trains. For this purpose, a migration strategy study is being conducted by Systra and inputs from this will also be the key factor on how the train design will take shape,” an official said. Besides this, there will be consultations with other stakeholders like zonal railways, financial institutions and other organisations involved.

The migration study bids were first invited in 2019 but due to the lockdown, the final consultants were appointed in December 2022.

As per the earlier documents, the MRVC had sought procurement-cum-lifetime maintenance of Vande Metro (suburban) rakes (2,856 cars in combination of 12/15 cars), including setting up of new maintenance depots and upgradation of existing maintenance facilities with a completion period of 84 months (7 years) for supply of these trains along with setting up of new carsheds at Vangaon and Bhivpuri. As per the conditions, the trains were not to be manufactured by railway factories but by the technology partners, ensuring Make in India guidelines with stringent maintenance requirements for the next 35 years.

Asked why the tender was taken off the site, MRVC officials said that it had only been deferred. An official note on the website, however, said the tender for “procurement cum lifetime maintenance of Vande Metro (suburban) Rakes including setting up of new maintenance depots and upgradation of existing maintenance facilities” has been deferred till further advice.

What is migration strategy

The MRVC has appointed Systra as consultants on how to migrate the existing Mumbai local train fleet to AC locals with least inconvenience to commuters. “The objective 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,” an official said.

The MRVC’s nine-point plan calls for the consultants to study the existing data/records including those regarding present traffic. The study will also include data on commuter profile, comfort and ease of travel, peak/non-peak hour travel, etc. It will have to simulate how feasible the AC locals will be and also ensure there are no major changes in the existing time table.

Sharp reactions

“They were never serious about it. Just a political gimmick. They have not figured how to migrate everyone to AC trains. The plan was never meant to be implemented,” a commuter,  Yogesh Lotlikar, said.

“What nonsense is this, how much further will they delay? But they have ample funds for beautification of stations which are already in good condition,” Cyon D’Mello.

“MRVC has been known for inefficiency. It is a parking place for officials to stay in Mumbai. This is a major goof-up. They had similarly failed in Thane-Diva alignment last time. All this will now further push ahead the cycle of change for the city’s transportation,” a railfan commuter said.

No. of trains that  are yet to be procured

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