The Central Railway has decided to convert 16 existing non-AC local trains into air-conditioned services. Out of these 16, six will run during rush hours (three in the morning and three in the evening). As a result, hundreds of commuters will no longer be able to travel on these trains; their wait times are expected to almost double during peak hours – unless they are willing to pay 1.3 times the first-class fare.
Due to several constraints it is not possible to increase the number of local services on the Trans Harbour Line, a Central Railway official said. The authorities invited members of passengers’ associations last month, and informed them that it was not possible to introduce new AC services, he said, adding the only option was to convert existing ones.
Asked why the Central Railway chose the Trans Harbour Line to introduce AC services, an official from the operations department said the line connected both the main and the Harbour Line of CR.
Commuters were not happy with the Central Railways’ reasoning. Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee member Subhash Gupta said the railways should rethink replacing non-AC services with AC ones, because fares of AC locals are much higher.
“Converting the 6.46 am Thane-Nerul non-AC local into AC means commuters of this train either pay more or wait almost 20 minutes for the next train,” said Gupta. The railway administration’s decision to convert six rush-hour trains shows it did not bother about the common passengers, he said.
Suhas Shinde, 28, from Thane, works as an accountant with a Nerulbased company. He said: “Usually I take the 9.19 am local from Thane. But if my train is converted into an AC one, I will be forced to leave home almost 20 minutes early. This will hit my daily routine.”
The first AC local of Central Railway arrived in the city in the first week of December. It trial is currently under way. “We are hoping the trains will be ready by the middle of January and they will be inducted into service by the end of this month. The timetable is prepared and has been sent to the Railway Board for final approval,” said a CR senior officer.
The Railway Board almost always approves the timetable proposed by the zonal railway, he said. “That’s why we are expecting that CR commuters will able to travel by AC trains by the end of this month.