Mumbaikars had a special Christmas present this year. After months of speculation and waiting, the AC local trains were finally officially launched on 25th December, 2017. Mumbai locals are world known for the sheer crowd (80 lakh daily commuters) and lack of space/comfort. AC trains thus are a saving grace for people who want hassle-free and comfortable travels, especially with summers near. The train will run around 12 times daily (except on weekends) on the Western Lines, from Borivali and Virar to Churchgate.
Features of the AC local trains
These trains also have automatic doors which is again a blessing because people will not be able to hang out of the open doors like in the normal trains. These trains like the metro with such automatic doors, would not start till all doors are closed. This would help reduce accidents and loss of life. Another interesting feature in the train is that there are intercoms installed in the coaches. These would allow commuters to talk to the guard or the motorman directly and ask for help in case of emergency.
The trains will have a capacity of 5964 passenger (seats) and a max speed of 100 kmph. There are also LED lights installed in the compartments which would save power consumption significantly. To the delight of those who like enjoy the view (not that it is great over here!) there are panoramic style windows instead of the regular smaller ones.
As sweet as these features may seem, it comes at a cost. No points for guessing! The fares of these trains are extremely pocket-unfriendly. Word is that prices of tickets of the AC train would be 1.3x the fare of the corresponding journey in the first-class compartment of the normal local train. The minimum fare for a first class journey is Rs. 50, so the fare for that same journey in the AC train would be Rs. 65! For the first six months however, as an introductory offer, the fares have been slashed to 1.2x. By June it would increase back to the 1.3x rule.
These fares are way higher that one would pay for an AC metro in Mumbai or even any other city. The bright side of this however, is that this would easily help to filter out the crowd as people who are willing to pay this premium for lesser crowd and bad odour, as well as more comfort, would switch to the AC trains.
It is too early now to gauge the response to, and success of these trains. Word is that people want higher frequency of these trains, as well as a lower price. Whether that happens or not is a separate matter altogether. However, due credit needs to be given to the railway ministry for implementing this idea and striving to improve commuting in a city known to sap the energy out of people travelling long distances frequently!