In order to find out why air-conditioned local trains, introduced by the Western Railway (WR), have not garnered a favourable response, railway officials have set out to undertake a survey to understand what is holding the commuters from using the AC local trains. The survey comes at a time when the WR is looking at inducting its second AC local train while two other AC rakes are yet to be pushed into operations. The first AC train was introduced on December 25, 2017.
The survey will be held over the next two weeks, seeking passengers’ views on fare, timings and frequency of AC local trains, among others, and will be inducted along with their experience of using the AC train services available as of now. Railway staff will reach out to passengers to fill out a questionnaire, which is being drafted.
Passengers travelling during off-peak hours will be approached in coaches, while those travelling during peak hours will be approached at entry/exit points of stations or while they wait at platforms.
Officials from the WR said limited services of AC local trains could be one of the reasons for limited patronage. “Passengers get a local train every two to five minutes, but in case of an AC train, if they are even a minute late and miss it, the next AC train is scheduled after a considerable duration,” said a senior railway official. The WR, at present, runs 12 services per day with six each in up and down lines. The questions also aim at getting passengers’ views on automatic doors.
At present, the WR has five AC rakes, of which it uses two trains to run the service throughout the week. Ravinder Bhakar, chief PRO of the WR, said, “We are aiming to get an accurate view from passengers about timings and other modalities. It will be carried out by the first week of March.”
Despite additional rakes lying idle, the WR is struggling to introduce more AC services due to lack of routes. However, the railways is in the process of finalising details of second AC rake, which will be used to run at least eight additional services.
“We have finalised a plan for inducting the second AC local train in the next few months,” Bhakar added. The link, under consideration, will replace an existing Churchgate-Bandra local train and run at least one Virar-Churchgate AC local train and three other Andheri-Churchgate services in the up line, while three Churchgate-Borivali services and one Churchgate-Virar service in the down line.