Commuters have gone up in arms after hearing that the Central Railway (CR) will give up four of their better rakes in exchange for rickety retrofitted trains from Pune.
CR commuters have long grumbled about having to ride in retro-fitted trains – anywhere between 17 to 22 years old – while their counterparts at Western Railway (WR) get to ride the shiny, new Bombardier rakes that began rolling in last year. In comparison, the best trains that CR has to offer are the decade-old Siemens rakes, but the commuters much prefer these over the rickety, ‘retro’ trains. The Harbour commuters get the worst deal of all, as most of these retro trains fall in their share. The Harbour line has only 25 of the beloved Siemens rakes, and now, the authorities are giving away four of these to Pune. In return, Harbour commuters will be saddled with yet more retro-fitted trains that nobody wants.
Complaining that they not only rattle with age, but are also stuffy and congested as compared to the more airy Siemens rakes
‘Retro trains are hellholes’
Rajni Dolas, a trans-harbour passenger, said, “The retro trains on the Harbour line are hellholes. They are stuffy and congested, as compared to the Siemens trains on the main line of CR, and the swankier Bombardier rakes on WR. Now, Pune commuters will get our newer Siemens rakes, which means we will be stuck with the worst.” “Many of the retro trains are in a bad condition and their maintenance is very poor. Harbour line commuters have been suffering for a long time, and it is high time that they get better trains,” said Subhash Gupta from Rail Yatri Sangh Mumbai, also an ex-member of the National Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee.
Commuters have described the retro trains as ‘hellholes’
Even as commuters protest that they are getting the short end of the stick yet again, CR officials said this is merely a necessary stop-gap measure. The Pune-Lonavala section was recently upgraded to 110kmph, but the retro trains were unable to keep pace, derailing the schedule of other long-distance trains as well. This affects several trains heading in and out of Mumbai as well. Officials said that this is why they decided to transfer the faster Siemens trains to Pune, as the Harbour line does not need much speed. However, the officials were quick with assurances that this does not mean commuters will have to suffer the old trains for long.
A senior CR official said, “This is just a stop-gap arrangement. New trains have started arriving from manufacturers, and the first one is already in place. Soon, we will replace the old fleet on Central Railway.” The official added, “There is no step-motherly treatment. The only reason why the Harbour line still has old trains is because it was the last to get converted to AC power, by which time other lines started getting new trains.” Akshay Ojha, a commuter, said, “WR got a fleet of the new Bombardier trains, and we have to make do with the decade-old Siemens and, worse yet, the retro trains. This is injustice. But a new Bombardier rake arrived for the Central line last week, and this has finally given us hope.”
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