Even as the blueprint for air-conditioned (AC) local trains for Mumbai are gathering dust, the railways are planning to run double-decker suburban trains to reduce commuter load.
The plan, however, is still on the drawing board.
KBL Mittal, Director General of the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Indian Railways, said there is a scope for double-decker suburban trains in Mumbai but the plan has to be studied first. “We will start preparing the design and study the feasibility of a double-decker train for Mumbai.”
Mittal said though a double-decker coach could result increasing the carrying capacity by 30 per cent, it would also involve changing the door structure, fitting staircases and doubling the number of doors — and these could bring down the carrying capacity by 8 to 10 per cent as there will be fewer seats.
Moreover, the railways will have to dedicate fixed entry and exit points because a double-decker train would halt at a station for less than 30 seconds, making it difficult for commuters to board and alight from the same door.
RDSO has prepared a prototype for a long-distance AC double-decker train and identified two routes — Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Howrah-Daund. The 11-coach AC chair car train has been manufactured at the Rail Coach Factory, Kaparthala.
While the seating capacity of each double-decker coach would increase from 72 to 105, the height of the train would increase by 100 mm from 4,677 mm. It will be on the lines of the double-decker Flying Rani and Valsad Express between Mumbai-Surat and Mumbai-Valsad respectively.
Another option the RDSO is looking at to reduce passenger load is increasing the number of coaches in a train from 15 to 18. On an average, 500 commuters travel in a single coach and after augmenting trains from nine-coach to 12-coach, the carrying capacity has increased by 30 per cent.
However, running 18-coach trains would mean re-spacing signaling systems, increasing the length of platforms and changing the track alignment.
Ten years ago, Western Railway had manufactured an AC coach at its Mahalaxmi workshop. The plan was to run it between Mumbai Central and Bandra, but the project was abandoned due to red tape. The Central Railway had also proposed to run an AC train between CST and Kalyan.
“Unless the doors are closed, local trains cannot have AC coaches. The number of commuters per coach will also reduce by 150,” said AK Gupta, executive director (EMU), RDSO.