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Monday, July 23, 2018

Mumbai’s AC local train: Cooler ride, better safety, higher fare

After two years of technical trials, the local was approved for running on the suburban network by the Railway Board on December 19.

Written by Neha Kulkarni | Published: December 26, 2017 12:51:01 am
Mumbai’s AC local train: Cooler ride, better safety, higher fare The Mumbai AC local train started its introductory trials from Borivali to Churchgate on Monday in the presence of state minister Vinod Tawde. (Express Photo: Dilip Kagda)

India’s FIRST air conditioned (AC) local train on the suburban railway network started operating from Mumbai’s Borivali railway station at 10:33 am on Monday. The 12-coach AC Electrical Multiple Unit (EMU) manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, was brought to Mumbai in April 2016. After two years of technical trials, the local was approved for running on the suburban network by the Railway Board on December 19:

What is different about the AC local train playing now on Mumbai’s suburban rail network?

The AC train is the first rake to ply locally with automatic doors — the closed doors will prevent commuters from standing on the foot boards of the train, which is common in the city’s crowded locals and which, crucially, will prevent deaths. On average, ten deaths of persons falling from Mumbai’s local trains are reported each day.

Also Read | India’s first AC local train flagged off in Mumbai: Fares, frequency, other details

Mumbai’s suburban railway system is one of the most efficient in India, with a local train every three minutes at a suburban railway station. Three coaches are reserved for women, two for disabled persons, two for luggage. The motorman’s cabin and the guard’s cabin are at respective ends of the train. The guard controls the door closures and openings in the AC local train. “ The train opens within two seconds after the motorman presses the button. We have set a minimum time of 20 seconds and a maximum time of 40 seconds stoppage at each station to allow commuters to get accustomed to this system. To avoid injury to passengers, doors will re-open thrice if any obstruction is detected, with an audio alarm to caution passengers about doors closing,” a senior railway official said. The train will not take traction if any of the doors are open.

What is the train’s passenger capacity?

The total capacity of the rake is 5,964 passengers with 1,028 seating capacity and 4,936 standing capacity. It is made up of two vestibuled coaches with each vestibule equal to the passenger carrying capacity of six suburban coaches (30 ton per coach). It has air conditioning in the motorman and guard’s cabins, first among 2,000 suburban trains in the city. There will be 12 services of the AC local train on the Western Railway.

How will the train run?

The AC local will run on the fast line, with stops at only nine major stations — Churchgate, Mumbai Central, Dadar, Bandra, Andheri, Borivali, Bhayander,Vasai Road and Virar (from south to north). One of the services will run on the slow line between Mahalaxmi and Borivali. For maintenance purposes, it will not ply on the weekends. In the initial week, only six services of the local have been planned between Churchgate and Borivali. The first and twelfth coaches from Churchgate end have been earmarked as ladies coaches, seven seats in the second and eleventh coach from Churchgate have been reserved for senior citizens while ten seats in the fourth and seventh coaches from Churchgate end are reserved for physically disabled passengers. Railway Protection Force (RPF) constables will be in each coach to ensure security. BHEL technicians will also be present to attend to any teething issues.

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Will travelling on the AC local train be more expensive?

The fare of a single journey ticket of the AC rake costs 1.3 times the base fare of a first class ticket. A Mumbai Urban Transport Plan (MUTP) surcharge and Goods and Service Tax (GST) of 5% is levied separately on the final fare. However, passengers will be charged 1.2 times that of the first class ticket cost in the initial six months — that means the minimum cost of a single journey ticket is Rs 60 while the maximum ticket cost will be Rs 205. “The fare structure would help draw elite commuters travelling in cars towards this. The higher fares will ensure limited crowds in the train, ensuring comfortable travel during peak hours,” a senior Western Railway official said.Weekly and fortnightly passes will cost an equivalent of 5 and 7.5 times a single journey ticket of the AC train.

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What are the challenges in operating the AC local train?

Managing a local train with automatic doors that waits ten seconds longer than any other suburban train at each station may affect punctuality. “We are replacing 12 regular train services with the AC rake. So, regular commuters travelling with a second class or first class pass may have to wait longer for the next train,” an official said. Reportedly there were teething issues with door closures during trials. Any problems would lead to the rake’s withdrawal till it is repaired. “Like metros, women can occupy seats in the remaining coaches apart from those earmarked for them. We will also bifurcate the ladies coaches from others by introducing a divider,” a senior official said.

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