The ministry of railways is planning to revive their proposal of running air-conditioned suburban locals on Mumbai division and a proposal to this effect is likely expected in this year’s railway budget. It is learnt that the Maharashtra transport ministry was keen to run such local trains to cut down the number of vehicles on road and curb traffic congestion.
Most of the railway officials, however, said the plan would not succeed, as it would be impractical to run such local trains during peak hours. The complete AC trains would not get the required occupancy and would require special staff to monitor such trains.
Though senior railway officials in Mumbai were tight-lipped on the project, most of them admitted that plans were on the anvil for quite some time and an experimental coach had even been designed in 2002 on Western Railway at cost of Rs 11 lakh. The Central Railway too had floated a similar plan in 1996. At present, the WR runs the Millennium Rake local train in which the motormen’s cab is fully air-conditioned.
A senior railway official said the railways should first conduct a survey among commuters as to how much should be the fare structure. "One cannot have an entire air-conditioned train in Mumbai’s peak hour rush. The best option would be to have the last three coaches air-conditioned. This would allow the general public to use the train."
Top officials of the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation said the newAC-DC ordered under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project will start coming from March this year. These trains are equipped with blowers and if an air-conditioner has to be installed, it will be easily possible in these trains as they can draw extra power as compared to the existing trains that run on DC technology.
Comfortable air-conditioned suburban rides on trains is a part of the Maharashtra government’s project document Vision Mumbai which is being partnered by Maharshtra government and the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation. Transport secretary GS Gill said he was not aware of the railways proposal.
What and when
1996: CR had first floated plan in 1996
2002: WR had converted a coach into AC with 17 occupants at a cost of Rs 11 lakh
2006: WR introduces Millennium Rake with AC driver’s cab
2007: Railway Ministry asks feasibility to run AC trains in Mumbai before budget.