After this paper revealed how city might not get any new AC locals due to red tape, top source from Union govt reaches out to say WR will soon get more AC trains
An AC local train arrives at Borivli railway station. File Pic/Nimesh Dave
Western Railway may soon get more air-conditioned local trains, as the cool rides have been largely welcomed by commuters, a top source from Delhi has told mid-day. “Given the positive feedback from WR, there may be some big announcement soon,” the source said. This comes about a week after mid-day reported how red tape has delayed orders for 238 AC trains promised to Mumbai, in addition to 40 that WR had demanded.
Meanwhile, the plan to replace the existing fleet of non-AC local trains with cool rides has been slowed by political opposition, lack of consensus among commuters and red tape. mid-day recently highlighted how grand plans to procure 238 new AC local trains for Mumbai are stuck in a loop of endless discussions and bureaucracy. Since December 2022, when the city got its last AC train, no new order has been placed. Western Railway, however, had made a separate demand for 40 AC locals.
“There is a need for consensus, as a split in opinion of commuters will lead to a number of controversies and a law and order situation, which needs to be avoided at all costs,” the source said. As per official figures, there are 14 AC local trains in Mumbai, but only 11 are operational at present. The Mumbai division of Western Railway runs 79 services with six trains, Central Railway runs five trains with 56 services, while the rest are under maintenance or spares.
An AC local train at Dadar station. File Pic/Ashish Raje
AC local trains have become a political tool since August 2022, with NCP president Sharad Pawar calling for their complete withdrawal from the city and restoration of regular services for working-class commuters. Central Railway to withdraw 10 new AC services within five days of introduction following protests from commuters who illegally board local trains from Kalwa car shed and also those from Badlapur. NCP leader Jitendra Awhad led their protest against the AC local services.
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“It seems AC local trains have affected office-goers, the middle class and the working people. AC trains should be withdrawn permanently and replaced with non-AC ones for the benefit of the common man,” Pawar had said in a public statement then.
Speaking to mid-day on Tuesday, Clyde Crasto, the national spokesperson, NCP, said, “Commuters have demanded the regular services of non-AC trains and the government must make it their priority. If they still go ahead and start AC trains, then it should be only as an additional service and they must make sure that it does not affect the number of currently running non-AC trains.”