AS IT chugs out of the Pune Railway Station for Daund, the DEMU is already late by almost an hour. Though the seating capacity is for 1,081 passengers and double the number can travel standing, there are hardly 300 occupants in the train. Almost four coaches at the rear end of the rake are totally empty, a rare sight in Indian trains.
The Diesel Electrical Multiple Unit (DEMU) commenced its operations last week after it was inaugurated by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. Although it did over 40 trips since then, it has rarely plied on time, which seems to have dampened the initial enthusiasm among the passengers.
The service operates with especially manufactured rakes propelled by newly-manufactured DEMU engines from a Chennai workshop. In this service, an individual can walk through the entire length of the train, a common feature in Express trains but not so common among local rakes. It has ample aeration with wide doors and as many as 28 fans per coach. Also, every coach has two bio-toilets which are much easier to keep clean and also help in maintaining the station areas stench free. The bright blue train is lit with LED lighting. It has specious racks to park the luggage.
Passengers are mostly satisfied with the design and amenities although they would have preferred if an EMU (Electric Multiple Unit) local service was started. What they want is better service, timely operation. Some passengers want the schedule to be changed. “We have been demanding a local for a long time. It’s been years. Although, it’s not a local, the train feels like one. It’s spacious,” said Achyut Jadhav, 23, a student. Harsha Shah of Railway Pravasi Group, who took a journey on Saturday said, besides delays and cancellations, there were several other areas that needed some improvements. “The train has a total of 15 coaches but of the two rakes that operate, one doesn’t have a women’s only compartment, which is a must in any local service,” said Shah.