The initial hesitancy and reluctance towards air-conditioned (AC) local train travel is visibly lifting. In a first, the Western Railway’s (WR) local AC services created a daily record of 1.06 lakh passengers on Tuesday.
WR officers said the numbers are 19% higher than the previous best of 89,891 passengers on August 8, and 25% higher than 85,231 daily passengers on July 4.
Shailesh Goel, former member of Indian Railway Passenger Consultative Committee, said passengers need comfort and want to board and alight without being thrown off. “Non-AC trains don’t provide that ease. With the railways reducing the fare, more and more people want to travel by AC trains,” he added.
With the Central Railway adding new AC services in the past one week, the demand for more WR cool trains has also risen, even though many passengers said the current frequency is satisfactory.
Vasai resident Sudha Chavan, who now travels by AC local, said , “After a hectic day, we need some rest, which is not possible in non-AC locals. We need more services, as right now we need to plan the day to be able to travel by one.”
WR officials said there has been a substantial rise in the number of commuters travelling by AC locals in the past few months. The number of passengers in April, May, June and July this year was 6.61 lakh, 11.18 lakh, 13.44 lakh and 14.51 lakh, respectively, while 8.4 lakh passengers have already used the services this month.
To meet the rising demand, WR introduced eight additional services from August 8, taking the total to 48. Currently, WR operates 1,375 local services on weekdays. On an average, nearly 30 lakh passengers use these local services every day.