To incentivise travelling by air-conditioned (AC) coaches, the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) has proposed to partially air-condition the existing rakes on the suburban railway. According to the proposal, two coaches of the Bombardier-manufactured trains would be replaced with air-conditioned ones.
Both Central Railway and Western Railway operate 250 non-AC coaches. The WR also operates one AC train that sees 12 trips between Churchgate and Virar railway stations every weekday. But officials have complained about the poor daily average ridership in it, which is only 265 passengers.
According to the proposal, the next set of 12-coach Bombardier trains will have six AC coaches each. “We are procuring 20 Bombardier rakes from the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai. We plan to ensure six coaches of these are air conditioned, which will bear the same configuration as the existing AC local trains. After they are procured, we can replace two non-AC coaches in Bombardier suburban trains with two AC coaches. This way, the system will see the running of 60 rakes in the suburban system fitted with two AC coaches each,” a senior MRVC official said.
Commuters have complained that the frequency of the AC local train is poor. By integrating two AC coaches in the existing suburban trains, more commuters would be able to travel in the AC coaches. “We are going to procure 210 AC rakes over the coming three years. So, this could prove to be a stop-gap arrangement for commuters,” the MRVC official added.
The two AC coaches would be at the middle of a suburban train as the model specifications demand it. “The motorman would be allowed to control its door closure from his cabin. A ticket checker could be deployed. The proposal is still at its nascent stage and requires to be discussed further,” the official added.
Officials hinted that the two AC coaches may also replace the existing first class coaches of the suburban trains. “When there are two AC coaches in a local train, we may not see the need to have a separate first class coach. Transition of commuters from first class to AC coaches could be seen gradually. We hope to see commuters with second class passes also traveling in the AC coaches later,” the senior MRVC official said.
Sanjay Singh, the MRVC spokesperson, said: “The scheme has not been finalised yet. The Railway Board, in consultation with the MRVC and the ICF, is weighing options as to how modifying suburban coaches would yield better results. There is a meeting with the ICF this week to get a better understanding of the plan.”