The Railway Board on Tuesday approved partial air-conditioning of Mumbai’s suburban local trains. As many as 78 Electrical Multiple Unit (EMU) trains will soon have six air-conditioned (AC) coaches – each trains has 12 compartments. In January, the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) discussed a policy to partially air-condition suburban rakes in Mumbai. The proposal was later sent to the board.
The Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, will retrofit 39 rakes, including its own Medha rakes and Siemens and Bombardier rakes, converting these to completely air-conditioned ones. The Railways intends to use six coaches from the 39 to replace six compartments in each of the existing trains.
According to senior railway officials, they plan to replace the first six coaches behind the motorman’s cabin. “While we are yet to decide on the compartmentalisation of coaches, reserving the first six coaches as AC would be ideal. They would be vestibuled with CCTV cameras and automatic doors. With this, we expect an increase in the ridership,” a senior railway official said.
Currently, one AC train plies on the existing suburban railway system. With an average of only 6,000 daily commuters in the train, it sees poor occupancy, railway officials have said. Commuters have complained that the AC local’s frequency is poor. It makes only 12 trips daily.
“The MRVC is set to procure 210 AC trains in the coming three years. Partially air-conditioning the trains could be a stop-gap arrangement for the commuters,” an MRVC official added.
The cost of each AC coach is Rs 6.25 crore. Officials said they are yet to deliberate on the design and other technical details. “As the tender for non-AC Medha rakes had already been floated, we would make necessary revisions in the tender. We expect a batch of seven AC Medha rakes to be procured in six months,” a railway official said.