Mumbaiites who were hoping that the 2013-14 railway budget, presented on Tuesday, would assure them new projects to ease their train commute woes will have been disappointed.
The 75 lakh commuters who travel by local trains every day will have to make do with just 72 new train
services (against the 75 announced last year) for the entire network on both the Western Railway (WR) and Central Railway (CR).
Currently, the WR runs 1,250 services and the CR runs 1,596 services. Union railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has said that the much-talked-about air-conditioned local train is likely to make its debut in the coming fiscal year - officials said it will probably start running by May on the western line.
"Depending on the success of the first AC train, the administration will decide if it wants to introduce more such trains," said a railway official. "The first AC train is likely to operate 12 to 14 services daily." The service is likely to run between Churchgate and Borivli. Depending on response, the service could be extended up to Virar, the official added.
The train will cost Rs. 80 crore and will have the capacity to carry 2,000 to 2,500 passengers.
Commuters, however, will get some relief as the budget has sanctioned many foot over bridges and escalators at major railway stations. The minister has also announced the installation of more Automatic Ticket Vending Machines, which is expected to reduce ticketing queues. There are allocations for the revamp of stations such as Andheri, Thane, Borivli as well as LTT. Funds have been allocated for the integrated security system, which was undertaken after the 26/11 attacks.
"This budget completely neglected the Mumbai rail network. Commuters have not got a fair share of facilities and services from the Centre after the recent fare hike. Even the number of new services announced is lesser than last year and no announcement was made about the extension of trains from 12-car to 15 car," said Shailendra Kamble, convener, Pravas Adhikar Andolan Samiti.
"There's no big deal about the 72 new services. Why is there no big-ticket project for Mumbai in the budget?" said Anil Tiwari, member, Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee.
Bansal also sanctioned the Hazrat Nizamuddin-Mumbai AC Express, a weekly train to the Capital via Bhopal and Khandwa, on the lines of the Rajdhani.