Mumbai commuters to get air-conditioned locals from Dec 25

Eight of these will run as "fast" trains that stop only at major railway stations between Churchgate and Virar. The first and twelfth coaches from Churchgate end have been earmarked as ladies coaches, seven seats in the second and eleventh coach from Churchgate have been reserved for senior citizens while ten seats in the fourth and seventh coaches from Churchgate end are reserved for physically disabled passengers. These coaches will also have an automatic door opening-closing system.

Presently, the WR operates a whopping 1,355 suburban services daily transporting around 3.5 million passengers with 89 rakes in the districts of Mumbai, Thane and Palghar, besides the Central Railway servicing commuters in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Raigad and surroundings.

The AC local trains will replace 12 existing non-air conditioned services - six services in up and six in down direction.

The total capacity of the rake is 5,964 passengers with 1,028 seating capacity and 4,936 standing capacity. The current single journey first class fare for Churchgate-Bandra is Rs 70, while the fare for Churchgate-Borivali and Churchgate-Virar Rs 140 and Rs 170 respectively. The only slow AC service will be from Mahalaxmi to Borivli after which it will run from Borivli to Churchgate. Weekly, fortnightly and monthly season tickets will be available for the AC train. Railway Protection Force (RPF) constables will be in each coach to ensure security.

The AC train has been categorized as a "premium train with low frequency" and the fare has been pegged at 1.3 times the prevailing first-class fare. The final fare chart will be out on Sunday. "However as an introductory offer for a period of initial six months, the base fare of single journey of AC EMU shall be charged 1.2 times of the base fare of existing fare of single journey first class ticket".

What are the challenges in operating the AC local train?

On May 5, 1992, the WR introduced the world's first Ladies Special trains which have now become a regular feature and a trendsetter for similar services in India and some other countries.

Railway officials feel that a section of commuters who drive to town will opt for the air-conditioned train.

  • Rogelio Becker