Mumbai commuters get AC local trains

The train will start its maiden journey from Andheri at 2.10pm and reach Churchgate around 2.44pm

In a Christmas gift to Mumbaikars, the country's first air-conditioned (AC) suburban train commenced its services, thus realising the long-awaited dream of lakhs of commuters.

The pre-New Year bonanza will see the first AC local leaving Andheri on Western Railway at 2.10 p.m. and reaching Churchgate at 2.44 pm.

The suburban train network was started in 1867 when the first local train was hauled by a steam engine. As per the current plans, of these 12 daily services, eight will be operated as "fast trains" on the congested Churchgate-Virar (Palghar) sector, three between Churchgate-Borivali, both with halts only at major stations, while one will ply as a slow service halting at all stations between Mahalaxmi-Borivali.

"The train will not operate on Saturdays and Sundays as it requires maintenance", he said, adding that the 12 services of the AC train will replace the existing 12 non-AC services.

Initially, it was meant to be run on the Central Railway (CR) corridor.

The total capacity of each AC train suburban local is 5964 passengers, with 1028 seating capacity and 4936 standing capacity. In the initial week, only six services of the local have been planned between Churchgate and Borivali. The railway official added they caught a passenger during the journey who was travelling without a ticket. Railway Protection Force (RPF) constables will be in each coach to ensure security.

This comes to an average minimum fare of Rs 60 and maximum of Rs 205 per single journey, and a monthly season ticket fare of between Rs 570 and Rs 2,070 for a commuter. The final fare chart will be out on Sunday.

The Churchgate-Borivali weekly, fortnightly, and monthly passes will cost Rs. 855, Rs. 1,245, and Rs. 1,640 respectively.

What are the challenges in operating the AC local train? "I feel once people decide to travel by AC trains regularly, the crowd inside the general coaches would be decent". This includes the deployment of special staff on the board the train to issue guidelines on the working of automatic doors. "So, regular commuters travelling with a second class or first class pass may have to wait longer for the next train", an official said.

The Ladies and Senior Citizen compartments will be configured differently from other rakes.

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