Mumbai: Demand to make AC local services affordable

Passengers say they expect the services to be more frequent, punctual and a lot more affordable.

Kamal MishraUpdated: Monday, September 19, 2022, 06:21 PM IST
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Mumbai: Demand to make AC local services affordable | Photo: Representative Image

The Central Railway (CR) authorities are happy with the response to the air-conditioned (AC) suburban train services. However, passengers say they expect the services to be more frequent, punctual and a lot more affordable.

“CR needs to focus on providing frequent punctual and affordable and AC Services exclusively between Kalyan / Dombivli / Thane and Kurla / Parel / CSMT. The railway administration also needs to introduce more suburban services by adopting new technologies,” said Sriram Iyer, 37 of Bhandup, who is a frequent user of CR's AC local services.

“Going by the records, Dombivli, Thane, Mulund, Kalyan etc contribute to the highest AC ridership and revenues of CR, but for regular passengers, there is a dearth of adequate services. In the morning peak hours there is one or two fast services, that too, with a gap of two hours, forcing people from Kalyan / Dombivli / Diva / Mumbra / Kalva to first commute to Thane and then switch over to AC services,” he added.

Lalitha Narayanswamy, 54, who works with a government organisation said, “I have been travelling regularly in AC locals from January 2020. It was the best alternative for us to travel long distances. But when the new timetable was introduced in March it created chaos as the regular train was cancelled. The new train introduced was from either thane or Kalyan and was double fast during peak hours, creating a lot of inconvenience for people travelling between Kopar and Kalwa.”

Lalitha, who is a resident of Kalwa, further added that while the prices of card tickets have been reduced, season tickets cost the same and are out of reach of the common man.

Asked about the protest of non-AC commuters against the AC locals on CR, Lalitha said, “While replacing a few non-AC services with AC services, they choose the wrong train. The 8.20 am service from Thane was being used by hundreds of commuters for many years and catered to the crowd from Kalwa. They also replaced the Badlapur train, which created a huge gap between two non-AC services and resulted in passengers agitating.”

Mumbra resident Zainab Huzefa Kaka, 43, who works as a senior executive with Nariman Point-based firm said, “There are no ticket checkers regularly present on the train and hence many commuters travel without valid AC local tickets. CR should deploy more ticket checkers to keep a check on ticketless travellers. Apart from that, CR needs to increase the number of slow AC local services, especially between 7.30 and 8.30 am.”

Laxmi Nikam, 30, who works as a computer operator with a south Mumbai-based Software firm said, “At present, I am travelling from Kalyan to CSMT but had problems with the commute initially. With the arrival of AC locals, I am relieved of my daily travel stress. Asked about any suggestions she said, CR needs to reduce the costs of season tickets of AC locals to woo passengers of non-AC local services. Laxmi also raised the issue of punctuality of AC trains saying rail authorities need to pay special attention and ensure the trains run on time.

Another regular commuter, Haribhau Kamble, 56, from Dombivli said, “The introduction of AC locals on CR ensures one can get in and off the train without any stress even during peak hours and also provides comfort. It's like a boon to elderly / senior citizens as well as lady commuters during peak hours. However, the ticket prices are still out of reach of the common man. All Mumbaikars should benefit from the AC locals. Rail authorities need to decrease the cost of travel and increase the frequency as soon as possible.”

Echoing this demand, passenger activist Siddhesh Desai said, “Seconds class passengers of suburban trains are not able to afford the cost of travelling in AC locals with the current rates. Mumbai needs safe, affordable and punctual suburban services. Ticket rates that are more than 20 per cent of current rates will not be affordable to the common man.”

Meanwhile, a CR official said suburban commuters have given an overwhelming response to the AC local services. “The number of passengers travelling by AC locals has increased considerably in the past six months. From a daily average of 1,954 passengers in January 2022 to 49,716 passengers in September 2022, traffic has increased almost 25 fold,” said the official.

VOICES

CR needs to focus on providing frequent punctual and affordable and AC Services exclusively between Kalyan / Dombivli / Thane and Kurla / Parel / CSMT. The railway administration also needs to introduce more suburban services by adopting new technologies

Sriram Iyer

Seconds class passengers of suburban trains are not able to afford the cost of travelling in AC locals with the current rates. Mumbai needs safe, affordable and punctual suburban services. Ticket rates that are more than 20 per cent of current rates will not be affordable to the common man

Siddhesh Desai

There are no ticket checkers regularly present on the train and hence many commuters travel without valid AC local tickets. CR should deploy more ticket checkers to keep a check on ticketless travellers

Zainab Huzefa Kaka

The 8.20 am service from Thane was being used by hundreds of commuters for many years and catered to the crowd from Kalwa. They also replaced the Badlapur train, which created a huge gap between two non-AC services and resulted in passengers agitating

Lalitha Narayanswamy

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