February 4, 2020 2:47:39 am
On the second day of service, only 68 tickets were booked during the morning hours for Central Railway (CR)’s first AC local, which is operating between Thane and Panvel.
A total of 10 services were run on Monday during the morning peak hours. Details of tickets sold during the evening peak hours were yet to be made available. CR officials caught 11 commuters, who were penalised for ticketless travel.
On the first day of commercial service on Friday, only 158 tickets were sold. These included card tickets as well as weekly passes and season tickets. The train also threw CR’s timetable on Trans-Harbour line out of gear on Friday. The AC train ended up halting for over a minute at each station, which left at least 52 locals running with a delay of over 15 to 20 minutes.
Confused passengers boarded the AC train without valid tickets caused overcrowding. The coaches were packed with passengers blocking the door, which led to the train halting at each platform for over a minute instead of its scheduled halt of 20 seconds. The Trans-Harbour corridor that has a punctuality of about 95 per cent on a regular day, one of the best in Mumbai, dropped to 60 per cent on Thursday.
The CR authorities, mindful of this problem, deployed additional staff to monitor the situation on Monday. A total of 24 staff were deployed inside the train and another 100 RPF personnel for controlling the crowd at stations. The authorities also stopped ticketless travelers from boarding the train.
The CR, following the Railway Board guidelines, has also made provision for passengers to board the AC local on a first class ticket and then get it upgraded inside the train by paying the difference in fare to the ticket checker. However, there were no takers for this scheme. CR officials, in a bid to attract commuters, have also visited schools and officials are informing them about the AC train, its fare slab and timings.
A senior official from CR said, “We will monitor the train for a certain period and if the ridership does not rise, a call on it will have to be taken.” An official said even during the evening peak hours on Monday, the occupancy remained low.
Another CR official suggested issuing spot tickets to passengers who wish to board the train instead of upgrading the first class ticket. A passenger has to pay Rs 15 to travel the 32-km distance from Thane to Panvel while travelling in second class while a first class fare for the same distance is Rs 145 and that for an AC train in Rs 185. The steep fare difference is considered one of the major reasons for the poor response to the train.
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