A day after Cabinet minister Raosaheb Danve announced reducing fares of air conditioned (AC) local and First Class, on Saturday, the rail officials on Central Railway and Western Railway are contemplating ways to cater the increase in footfall. In fact the top-boss of Indian Railways, Chairman and CEO of Railway Board V K Tripathi held a meeting with CR and WR officials at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, where issues pertaining to AC locals were also discussed. The railway authorities are also looking at publicizing weekly and fortnightly season passes that are issued solely for AC local train services.
There are currently 10 AC local rakes that are operating on CR and WR. These AC trains are operating 60 services on Central Railway; with a bifurcation of 44 services on Main line and 16 services on Harbour line. The Western Railway is operating 28 services. Both CR and WR are sharing 8 services on the Harbour line running between CSMT and Goregaon, which are included in the above figures.
Sources said that out of the 10 AC rakes, the CR and WR have kept one each as back-up rake. “We expect two more AC rakes to come this year of which one is expected to arrive before monsoon. Now that fares have been slashed, we expect more footfalls inside AC locals. Yes, the point remains on catering to the probable rise in commuters who might switchover to AC local from normal trains,” said a senior railway official.
In March the average daily ridership on WR was 15354 passengers inside 20 services. The 44 services on Main line catered 17000 people, 16 services on Harbour carried 2400 passengers. The peak hours are already seeing good response with people travelling inside AC local trains. -At present the daily ridership on CR and WR have touched 70-72 lakh or so.
The CR and WR will get more 238 AC locals under phase 3 and phase 3A of Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) that is being procured by Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation. However this agency, which is a joint venture between Indian Railways and Maharashtra government, is in trouble as they have not been receiving financial assistance from both Centre and State owing to political differences.
“Under the current situation these AC local trains might not arrive until 3-4 years considering the process of calling tenders, appointing contractors and other procedure isn’t completed,” said another railway official.
The coming weeks could be crucial for boosting the footfalls inside AC local considering that the Railways have reduced fares on Single Journey tickets by 40-50 percent from May 5. In a recent public survey carried out by the Indian Railways, 52 percent of 35685 wanted the fares to be reduced. The existing minimum fare of Rs 65 for a distance of 5 kms.
Currently, passengers need to pay Rs 210 for a single journey between Churchgate to Virar. Similarly Rs 210 for Churchgate to Vasai, Rs 190 for Churchgate to Bhayander, Rs 180 for Churchgate to Borivali, Rs 135 for Churchgate to Andheri and Rs 90 for Churchgate to Bandra. On CR routes current AC local fare for the single journey between CSMT to Dadar is Rs 65. Similarly, passengers need to pay Rs 135 for travel from CSMT to Kurla, Rs 180 for CSMT-Thane, Rs 205 for CSMT-Dombivali, Rs 210 for CSMT-Kalyan, Rs 185 for CSMT-Vashi, Rs 135 for CSMT-Andheri, Rs 180 for CSMT-Gurgaon, and Rs 65 for CSMT-Wadala.
The base fare that will be applicable from May 5, without taking GST and other taxes into consideration; has been announced by the Indian Railways. The base fare for Single Journey on Churchgate-Virar, CSMT-Kalyan and CSMT-Panvel that is around 60-kms or so; will be Rs 99 without taxes. Likewise on Churchgate-Borivali and CSMT-Thane that is around 33 kms or so will be Rs 80 as base fare, Churchgate-Andheri and CSMT-Ghatkopar which is around 21 kms is expected to be Rs 56 as base fare. The minimum base fare for Single Journey ticket that ranges upto 5kms is Rs 29 for AC local.
The railway officials are preparing the detailed fare chart for both CR and WR which will come into effect from May 5.