It was an initiative that was meant to enhance commuting consolation in a metropolis the place the suburban rail transit system is jam-packed throughout rush hour. The inclusion of air-conditioned trains was deemed to be a panacea for the commuting woes of lakhs of commuters who journey lengthy distances in stuffy compartments to succeed in Mumbai from distant elements of Mumbai Metropolitan Area.
Coverage-makers, nevertheless, have been perplexed over the protests which were sparked by the transfer in elements of Mumbai’s prolonged suburbs resembling Kalwa and Badlapur. The sudden protests and the help prolonged to the agitators by politicians resembling NCP chief Sharad Pawar have dropped at the fore the angst of many decrease center class commuters who discover these trains unaffordable.
MUMBAI’S SUBURBAN TRAIN SYSTEM
For a linear metropolis like Mumbai, the suburban practice companies play a significant position in facilitating the north-south motion of town’s workforce. Whereas the suburban practice system is used democratically by each strata of Mumbai’s inhabitants, the majority of its customers are the decrease center class and the poor who represent nearly all of town’s workforce and are compelled to journey lengthy distances to come back to the business enterprise districts within the metropolis.
The 2 suburban methods operated by each the Western Railways (WR) and the Central Railways (CR) stretch 319 km. They facilitate inter-district journey in 5 districts specifically Mumbai, Mumbai Suburban, Thane, Palghar, and Raigad. A complete of three,129 companies are operated on the Central and Western line wherein presently near 60 lakh commuters journey every day, paying anyplace between Rs 5 and Rs 35 for a one-way ticket and Rs 105 and Rs 500 for a month-long season ticket.
In 2017, the authorities determined to function air-conditioned trains within the metropolis. As of date, a complete of 104 air-conditioned companies function within the metropolis wherein round a lakh commuters journey every day paying between Rs 35 and Rs 165 for a one-way commute, and Rs 650 to Rs 3,150 for a month-long season ticket.
WHY THE PROTEST AGAINST AC TRAINS
The overall grouse of the protestors is that the fares of those AC trains are too excessive and have additionally questioned why the railway authorities are changing regular practice companies with AC rakes throughout rush hour even when the occupancy of the latter is comparatively low as a result of excessive value of travelling.
A day by day commuter of CR, Swapnil Gaikwad (33), who lives in Ambernath and works in a personal firm as a driver at Bandra Kurla Advanced (BKC), mentioned that he too desires to journey in consolation and ease however the price of AC native month-to-month move isn’t reasonably priced. “From Ambernath to Kurla, the price of a non-AC second class month-to-month move is round Rs 315. Whereas the AC native month-to-month move for a similar distance prices over Rs 2,000.How can one afford such an costly month-to-month move?” he requested.
One other day by day commuter of WR, Tejaswi Patne (Kadam), who works in a personal financial institution and travels between Borivali and Decrease Parel, urged that at the least firstclass non-AC ticket-bearers and passholders must be allowed to journey in AC native trains. She too cited the excessive AC practice fares. Patne mentioned that for a non-AC second class month-to-month move, she pays Rs 215, whereas the primary class move prices Rs 780 however for a similar distance, the AC native month-to-month move will value her over Rs 1,000. She mentioned that the price of the season move of non-AC firstclass is excessive and the women compartment is simply too small, with fewer seats for passengers.
Nonetheless, different day by day service class commuters from Badlapur, Ulhasnagar, who sat within the current protest in opposition to extra AC trains that have been launched on CR and later needed to be cancelled, cited mismanagement of practice timetable and improper planning and research by the railway authorities at giant. Commuters Mahesh Deshmukh (34) and Rakesh Nanda (37) each mentioned that non-AC native trains needn’t change the AC ones. Right here’s why. “On the CR route, there’s a night native going in the direction of Badlapur from CSMT at round 6.10pm which was transformed into AC native previous to the protest. However since one native was made AC, the whole crowd shifted to the non-AC native practice. This created an outburst. Subsequently, to keep away from such a state of affairs, Railways ought to all the time converse to day by day travellers to know their wants and AC trains must be launched accordingly, with out disturbing the present non-AC practice companies timing. In any other case, the rift will proceed.”
Nandkumar Deshmukh, president of Thane Railway Pravasi Sangh, mentioned that the Railways ought to rationalise this swap to AC native by bringing in a hybrid system the place a single rake has the choice of each AC and non-AC compartments.
“Railways ought to run a mixture of AC and non-AC compartments in its service. Let commuters determine wherein compartment they need to journey. It’s good that AC locals have been launched however the ticket fare is simply too excessive for a labourer, or center class individuals,” he mentioned.
WHY ARE PROTESTS LIMITED TO CENTRAL LINE
Whereas the passengers of each the Central and Western line are in opposition to the brand new AC trains, the protests have largely been restricted to the previous. The commuters on the Central line route are utterly depending on railways to succeed in Mumbai. Travelling day by day through roadways utilizing non-public cab service or by personal automobile isn’t reasonably priced, given the excessive gasoline costs. The street distance is sort of 39 kilometres simply between Badlapur and Thane. Most commuters journey to Navi-Mumbai, South Mumbai, and the Bandra Kurla Advanced, the place most non-public workplaces are positioned. Whereas, on the Western line route, suburban workplaces have shifted from South Mumbai to Andheri, Bandra, Goregaon, and Kandivali. Loads of residents staying alongside these routes can go for BEST Buses, take auto-taxis, and even the newly launched Metro service 2A and seven between Dhanukarwadi, and Aarey, and the previous Mumbai Metro one which runs between Ghatkopar and Versova. Workplace-goers and commuters produce other reasonably priced public transportation modes, not like Central Railways.
HAVE AC TRAINS IMPROVED PASSENGER COMFORT?
Shut to at least one lakh individuals use the 104 AC trains day by day in Mumbai. The deployment of those companies has undoubtedly improved passenger consolation for commuters resembling 39-year-old Sachin Shinde, a frequent AC practice commuter from Badlapur to Thane, who works in a multi-national logistics firm.
“Badlapur and Thane each have turn into crowded stations. To board trains from these two platforms has turn into a Herculean process. Overlook getting a seat, getting contained in the compartment safely can be an enormous problem in non-AC trains these days. Nonetheless, with AC trains, the journey has turn into easy. Now, the one demand that I’ve as a commuter is best frequency of AC trains and a discount in fares,” Shinde mentioned, including that he buys single journey tickets from the net cell software moderately than shopping for a season move for an entire month as a result of poor frequency of AC trains on the Central Line.
Equally, Harish Marchetty, one other day by day AC practice commuter from Malad to Churchgate, who works in a personal agency, mentioned his commute has turn into stress-free for the reason that AC locals have been launched. These days, even in AC trains, you will notice a number of crowds, he mentioned. In actual fact, throughout peak hours, commuters could be seen standing via their journey, which was not the case earlier. “Travelling in AC native trains has simply not made my travelling expertise ‘cool’ however has given me security additionally. It was worrisome to journey on the footboard as non-AC trains are often jam-packed, with doorways open,” Marchetty mentioned.
WHAT ARE THE RAILWAYS’ AC TRAIN PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
The Mumbai Rail Vikas Company (MRVC), accountable to hold out growth and enchancment initiatives, is predicted to obtain 238 AC native rakes beneath the Mumbai City Transport Mission (MUTP)-3 & 3A – 47 AC rakes beneath MUTP3 and 191 beneath MUTP-3A are proposed to be procured by 2024. They may have a life-span of 25 years.
An MRVC official mentioned the Railway Board will determine on the procurement of those rakes earlier than a young could be floated. The prevailing AC rakes have been procured by Western and Central Railways from Integral Coach Manufacturing unit (ICF), Chennai.
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WHY DID RAILWAYS START AC SERVICES IN MUMBAI
The AC trains have been put into service following a Public Curiosity Litigation by railway security activist Sameer Zaveri, who misplaced each his legs in a practice accident in 1989. Zaveri’s PIL in 2008 demanded varied preventive measures, together with closed door native trains to make sure commuter security.
Subsequently, with the beginning of air-conditioned Metro traces within the metropolis, the Railway authorities launched AC native trains in 2017. Zaveri’s PIL was disposed of after the Railway made a submission that it was putting in measures to enhance commuter security, together with beginning AC trains.
Nonetheless, Zaveri feels that whereas the AC trains are a step in the precise route, the fares should be rationalised to make sure that all strata of society are capable of afford travelling on these companies.
“The price of season tickets must also be diminished like single journey tickets. In any other case, the aim of stopping commuters from travelling on the footboard in crowded native trains shall be defeated,” Zaveri mentioned.