Cheers, selfie, songs mark Day 1
For all those at Panvel station at 3.48pm on Thursday, Central Railway (CR) had a big surprise in store for them. The first air-conditioned (AC) local on the Thane-Panvel trans harbour line, bedecked with flowers and balloons, was going to be flagged off.
Shubhangi Roy, 21, was at the station with five friends, when they realised they could take the new train. “We were waiting for our regular train, then heard the announcement that AC train is coming. We considered it as our lucky day and boarded the train,” said Roy, who is a student. Inside the train, one of the first things Roy did was take a selfie and then enjoy the air-conditioning. “The first thought that came to my mind while I entered the train is that we’ll be rid of unwanted stench during summer, which is big issue in normal trains,” she said.
When CR’s first AC local set off from Panvel station at 3.48pm, there were few people on it but with each passing station, the crowd grew and news of its arrival spread. At Kharghar station, a crowd of students cheered as they entered the compartments, which offer more leg space and include safety features like an alarm and closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras. While there are separate compartments for women, all compartments are connected from the inside.
“Summer is coming and nothing could be better than an AC train on this route. Though the fare is on the higher side, considering the comfort, I am ready to pay for it,” said Geetanjali Bapat, 32, who travels from Mansarovar to Thane daily for work. As the train made its journey, the compartments got increasingly crowded, but the mood remained upbeat with some commuters even breaking into songs. Anand Tayde, 65, waited for two hours to ride the new train. “I purchased the ticket. I will keep it as souvenir. It will be etched in my memory forever that I took the first AC train which was flagged off from Panvel,” he said.
By the time the train entered Thane station at 4.55pm, it was jam-packed. The station, too, was crowded because the schedule for local trains had been disrupted by this trial run. Even though trains were running more than 15 minutes late, the new AC local was greeted by a band and loud cheers.