Bringing good news for commuters, the Western Railways (WR) announced that it could soon get a partial air conditioned (AC) local train after all. Authorities have been looking at 9-car non-AC and 6-car AC coaches that could be combined into a 15-car train. This comes at a time when WR has also been positively contemplating about operating AC locals on the slow corridor.
To begin with, the WR authorities are working out methods wherein they can combine the regular non-AC coaches and AC coaches (divided in two vestibules of 6 cars each) into a single 15-car train. Earlier, in this year’s railway budget 2021-22, a new head for the partial air conditioning of 78 EMU rakes in Mumbai at a cost of Rs 507 crore’ had been created.
Senior officials from WR said, “We are still working out on the technical aspects for the same.” Currently, of the 7 AC locals in the fleet, only one is operational and others are lying unused in the carsheds. The WR authorities are sceptical about operating them despite the fact that the demand for these AC locals has increased amongst Mumbaikars.
The sale of daily tickets and season passes for AC locals has considerably surpassed the demand during pre-COVID-19 times. Since February 1, when the local trains were opened for all with time restrictions, WR saw 2.02 lakh passengers travelling in the 12 services of a single AC local, after 6,861 of them bought daily tickets and 10,780 monthly season tickets (MSTs) were sold till February 28.
The daily average comes to 245 journey tickets and 385 MSTs sold in February. In December, last year, WR merely sold 25 to 30 MSTs per day. Despite this stupendous jump, the General Manager of WR, Alok Kansal, feels that the demand for AC locals is poor. “The response for AC locals is poor and we need more passengers to travel in AC locals,” said Kansal. “We are considering running AC locals on the slow corridor.”
Authorities also indicated that this would be done once the work on extending platforms for 15-car trains is complete in the Andheri-Virar section by March end. Sources said that there are chances that they might test the partial AC train on this section during off-peak hours to gauge the demand.