MUMBAI: The wait for air-conditioned train will finally end for passengers of Mumbai's suburban railway service, with Railway Minister Piyush Goyal today saying that the first such train will be introduced on January one.
The local train network, considered Mumbai's lifeline, is heavily congested and carries over 65 lakh passengers every day, with the Western Line alone accounting for 35 lakh passengers. Officials said the plan to introduce AC trains has been on the anvil for over a year.
For starters, one AC train with around seven services daily will run on the Western Line.
"The AC trains have been tried and tested and will be introduced on January 1," Goyal told reporters here.
Officials said that the fares on the AC train will be like the Delhi Metro or around 1.5 times the cost of first class tickets in the existing local trains.
The railways has procured nine more electrical multiple unit (EMU) AC rakes for Mumbai so that such services can be operated both on the Western railway (WR) and Central railway (CR) lines, officials said.
The first such train was scheduled to run this month but there were some operational issues which delayed it. However, senior officials of the railway board said that the issues have been sorted out.
"This will be the first commercial run. It is just the beginning and eventually the idea is to keep adding to the number of such trains," Member Traffic Md Jamshed told PTI.
The Western line of the Mumbai Suburban Railway consists of 37 stations from Dahanu Road to Churchgate railway station.
It is operated by Western Railways (WR) and runs the most services each day Â— 1,201.
Goyal also mooted passenger augmentation on the suburban line by beginning elevated train services in the city area.
"I have already requested teams in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore to do a preliminary assessment of its technical feasibility then we can get down to preparing its financial feasibility.
"Similarly, in Mumbai there were two elevated tracks already planned in Western and Central lines but we are having a re-look at that because some of the costs were extremely high," he said.
They were trying to use only the traditional rail "in an elevated fashion so that cost becomes reasonable" and it can implemented in a fast-track mode, said Goyal.
The minister also said that he has already approved 370 escalators for Mumbai, and CCTVs are to be installed in all the trains and stations in Mumbai for better security.