The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), in its most ambitious move yet, is laying the groundwork to run air-conditioned suburban locals in Mumbai. Confirming the development, IRCTC chairman Dr AK Manocha told dna that a financial model on how IRCTC plans to go about it is being worked out.
“Running air-conditioned suburban local trains in Mumbai is under IRCTC’s serious contemplation. It’s a concept we believe we can contribute to. The financial model will have to be submitted to the Railway Board in the next couple of months and we will take it forward from there,” Manocha told dna.
Manocha said that the finer details — whether it would be air-conditioned rakes or a few air-conditioned coaches being added to existing locals – are being worked out.
“These issues will be taken up once the financial model is submitted to the Board,” he said.
City-based railway officials agreed that the move by the IRCTC- so far involved in ticketing, domestic and foreign tours – has given a new dimension to the plans to get air-conditioned locals for Mumbai.
According to railway officials, there is still a lot of confusion on whether the AC locals would just be another segment for both Western and Central Railways or whether the railways makes the air-conditioned local a completely new product, in terms of management as well as fares, standing apart from the current suburban system.
“The entry of a railway PSU like IRCTC into the fray might be a sign of railways wanting to corporatise its AC suburban local segment,” said an official.
As reported by dna in its January 13 edition, the first air-conditioned local for Mumbai will, in all probability, come into the city by July this year.
That is because its electrical equipment, to be supplied by BHEL, will be ready by the end of March this year. The Railway Board has given Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, an order for nine more rakes for Mumbai, which would all be air-conditioned ones if commuter feedback and monetary returns on the first AC locals are encouraging.