If the Western Railway (WR) has its way, you will have to buy a card ticket before each journey on the much awaited air-conditioned (AC) suburban local train, slated to begin next year.
The rail authorities are against the idea of subsidised season tickets, the most preferred method of daily commute on the western line, as they say that it would not be economical for the railways.
“If a season pass is introduced for the AC local, the train would be as packed as the first class compartments of suburban locals,” said a senior railway official.
The railway authorities are confident that even without the availability of season passes, enough commuters would be willing to travel on the upcoming train as heavy traffic and overcrowding make travelling by road and local trains an inconvenient option.
WR authorities have prepared a proposal detailing the proposed fare structure for the AC local and sent it to the Railway Board, the apex body of the Indian Railways which will take the final decision on it.
While the senior official refused to disclose the proposed fare structure, he suggested that fares would be at par with those for AC buses and AC chair cars of the railways.
Chennai-based Integra Coach Factory has been tasked with manufacturing the first AC local.
While the train was scheduled to arrive in the city last April, it has been delayed till next year over some technological challenges.
“It is expected to take at least five more months,” said another senior official of WR.
As this is the first AC train of its type, delays are unavoidable, the official said.