“The train cannot ply until each door is closed. During peak hours, we expect commuters to get in and get out of the train within the given time period. This, if takes longer, can lead to bunching of train services planned in the later hours,” said a senior railway official.
Commuters had complained about the fares of the rake being higher than that of first class. “What are we getting for paying so much if there is going to be no check on the rush in the train? Second class and first class commuters’ entry must be completely restricted,” said Manoj Padolia, a resident of Kandivali who travelled in the AC train Monday. He also complained that the seats were not cushioned.
Many commuters put up photographs on social media where they were seen taking a joy ride on a packed AC train during the inaugural run. Officials raised concerns that more crowd would dissuade car travellers from taking the AC train. “The train is meant to attract the elite crowd. Only thinner crowd would entice vehicle users to switch to AC local. The initial days will attract joy ride commuters but it is only after a month since implementation that the real usage of the train by commuters would be seen.
We are hopeful that many first class and second class commuters would gradually switch to travelling in the AC local, if they want to avail a ride with lesser crowd,” said a senior railway official. Two ticket-checkers would be deployed on each ride of the train in the introductory phase. Checking on ticketless travelling in the later days may become a challenge. Officials are concerned about the teething issues with door closure in the rake.
“If this is withdrawn from service for a few days, commuters would need to switch to travelling in first class of trains. We will be getting a fair idea of the reception of this train by January end, post which a suitable order of the delivery of the other rakes to be procured from the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) could be made,” said a railway official.
Many officials said commuters might not feel the need to travel in an AC local now when it’s the winter season. They said gauging its popularity among commuters in the initial two months after introduction was important to understand the reception of the service.
“It is a prototype rake and the Western Railway has fulfilled the challenge to run it successfully in the system. We will introduce the required modifications in the remaining rakes, according to the reviews of commuters,” said A K Gupta, General Manager, Western Railway.
Even as they rolled out the first air-conditioned (AC) local train in a suburban system Monday, railway officials expressed concern over how the 12 services of the AC local could affect the interests of a majority of the commuters who might not fancy the AC ride.
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