The railways are anticipating an increase in commuters inside air-conditioned (AC) local trains during monsoon. The primary reason behind this is to escape getting drenched while travelling, especially in a non-AC local. The rail authorities claim that the thermostat in AC locals is temperature controlled. As per figures until June 9, on Western Railway in 2021-22, there were 5752 commuters taking the AC local every day; which has shot up to 31492 commuters per day; a jump of 5.4 times.
Even the Central Railway is seeing a surge in the number of passengers travelling inside AC locals. From April to June until the 9th of the month, there were more than 19.32 lakh commuters taking the AC local after selling over 3.34 lakh daily tickets and season passes. This includes selling 73619 daily journey tickets for AC locals and 5512 Season Passes that were used by more than 3.77 lakh passengers from June 1-9. The Western Railway during the same period sold 79984 daily journey tickets and 6099 Season Passes that were used by over 4.25 lakh passengers.
Sources said that looking at this steep increase in people travelling inside AC locals, the railway authorities feel that they expect more passengers to travel. “The closed AC locals are not only safe to travel but also ensure that water does not seep inside coaches from windows and doors. We are increasing the number of services from next week to cater to the rising demand,” said a senior official from Western Railway.
The commuter count per service on WR is also seeing a rise. In April this year, the average occupancy service was 1102, went up to 1127 in May and in June (1-9) it is now 1478 passengers per service. On the CR, in April the average was 329 passengers per service which went up to 625 passengers per service in May and in June (1-9) it jumped to 816 passengers per service of AC local.
At present, the WR runs 32 services while CR runs 56 services every day. The promising figures of increasing ticket sales and passengers are from the time the Rail Ministry slashed fares of daily journey tickets on air-conditioned local trains by 50 percent on May 5. “The AC local is gaining popularity and it's evident by the sale of daily tickets. During peak hours we are seeing jam-packed coaches,” said a CR official.
The WR has 6 AC rakes, which includes one AC rake that they received from CR, and are operating 4 AC rakes. The CR has 5 AC rakes while they are operating 4 AC rakes.