Mumbai: Private companies may run AC local trains in future, says report

In the future, private companies may get to run air-conditioned local trains in Mumbai. This comes after Centre proposed introducing private passenger train operators.

According to DNA, Indian Railways is studying the possibility of procuring 257 air-conditioned local trains that could be wet-leased for the Mumbai region. The idea to explore the possibility of procuring AC locals from private parties came from the Government of India's policy think tank - Niti Aayog, the report quoted senior railway officials as saying. It added that this is the first time when Indian Railways is considering a wet lease for the Mumbai local.

A senior railway official told the leading daily, "We are studying the scope and modalities to procure trains under the wet-lease model. There are a lot of things that need to be looked into and as of now nothing has been finalised."

A wet lease is primarily an aviation concept, with its dictionary meaning being: "an arrangement covering the hire of an aircraft including the provision of a flight crew and sometimes fuel." The arrangement saves the former from huge financial burdens. If the Railways agrees to the Niti Aayog idea then a private company would get the opportunity to manufacture the trains and maintain them, while the responsibility of operating them will be with the Railways.

Mumbai's suburban network is the most extensive in the country with a daily footfall of 70 lakh commuters. Sources told DNA that the wet lease model, if successful in Mumbai, may become a blueprint for other cities. A railway official told the DNA, "The biggest issue will be that these trains on wet lease should not compromise the safety of passengers using them."

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