Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has asked Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) officials to review the demand for AC locals taking into view future needs and projections. The orders came on July 25, during a comprehensive review of ongoing rail projects in Mumbai.
“Before the start of the procurement process for air-conditioned local trains, the minister wants full clarity,” an official who attended the meeting said. Goyal also directed MRVC officials to submit a report as soon as possible following the assessment of the Mumbai suburban section’s needs.
Currently, the city suburban section has eight AC locals; before the pandemic lockdown, only four were in use. Four more are being produced. Local train operations have been suspended due to Covid-19.
More than a year ago, procurement of 238 AC locals was sanctioned under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project 3 and 3A, but the tendering process is yet to begin. In January, Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav, during a discussion with stakeholders, revealed that there was opposition to AC locals. Western Railway was also sceptical of fully air-conditioned services.
Subhash Gupta, member of the Zonal Railway Users Consultative Council, said that it would have saved money and spared everyone the headache had semi AC locals been procured in the first place. “A very small percentage of commuters use the AC locals,” he said.