Transport activists in the city suggested that the railways should procure trains, which have a combination of both air-conditioned (AC) and non-AC coaches for suburban train network instead of going for fully air-conditioned trains. In their opinion, this will provide more options to commuters and help ease daily travel.
While listing its benefits they said the combination can also attract car-users thereby reducing road congestion. Keeping this in view, the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) should procure new suburban trains under Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP-III), suggested the activists.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit the city by this month end to launch many big infrastructure projects ahead of the BMC polls and MUTP-III is one of them. Activists are looking at this as an opportunity for railways to procure trains with a composition of AC and non- AC trains. Else it will have to wait for the next lot of trains which are not yet planned.
Apart from expansion and strengthening of railway networks in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), the MUTP has proposed the procurement of 47 new 12-car trains at the cost of Rs 2,899 crore. The move will ease commuting in local trains directly affecting over 70 lakh daily suburban commuters.
Ashok Datar, a transport activist said these trains can have a combination of 9 non-AC and 3 AC coaches, which will serve as comfortable travel option to first class commuters and car users, thereby reducing to the road congestion. “We have to plan and procure these trains at the earliest because by the time they arrive, are tested and introduced it will take another 5-7 years. Besides, the current first class commute doesn’t add any value especially during peak hours as the coaches are equally crowded. This will provide another option for first class commuters to shift to AC coaches as well,” he said.
Similar suggestion was made by World Bank (WB) officials during their visit to the city last year. The country director of WB Onno Ruhl had suggested that Mumbai, being the financial capital, should have combination of AC and non-AC coaches, to make travel affordable and comfortable.
The railways have already procured one fully air-conditioned (AC) 12-car vestibule suburban train which is likely to be introduced on Central Railway by December end. However, the activists said it will not serve the purpose since frequency of the only AC train is likely to be very poor. “The fully AC train will limit options for commuters since they will have to wait for a particular train. Instead, if AC coaches are introduced in each train, it will cater to different segments of commuters,” said Gaurang Damani, member of the divisional railway users’ consultative committee (DRUCC).