In what can be called a Christmas gift to Mumbaikars, the much awaited & much delayed air conditioned local train will finally be in service of Mumbaikars from tomorrow. It’s first trip will be from Andheri to Churchgate at 2.10 pm. Thereafter it will be operated on 12 services per day as follows:
Origin, Destination, Departure from origin, arrival at destination
MX-BVI 06.58 07.50.
BVI-CCG 07.54 08.50.
CCG-VR 08.54 10.13.
VR-CCG 10.22 11.46.
CCG-VR 11.50 01.10.
VR-CCG 13.18 14.44.
CCG-VR 14.55 16.14.
VR-CCG 16.22 17.42.
CCG-BVI 17.40 18.41.
BVI-CCG 18.55 19.44.
CCG-VR 19.49 21.15.
VR-CCG 21.25 22.49
(Legend: MX-Mahalaxmi, CCG-Churchgate, BVI-Borivali, VR-Virar)
While this is good news, I have serious objections to the way it is going to be operated. The services which will be operated by AC rake are currently operated by regular non AC rake. From tomorrow onwards, the normal services will be replaced by AC service. I strongly disagree with this decision. The AC train should have been strictly run as additional services only. Normal ticket/pass holders won’t be able to use these 12 services now. They are left with no option but to use the previous or next services. The next & previous services will have to accommodate an entire train load of extra commuters from tomorrow. It will definitely lead to overcrowding. Imagine the effects of a Virar fast cancelled in peak evening hours – that is what will happen from tomorrow, every single day.
The second sore point is operation on weekends. It is ok to not operate the AC rake on weekends as it may not find enough commuters. However this will result in reduction of 12 services on weekends, which were previously operated by non AC rakes. I’ve personally seen many of these services which will be converted to AC from tomorrow. They have good crowds on all days of the week. At least non AC rakes should be operated on these services on the weekend.
Not everyone can afford AC rake travel. Withdrawing normal services which used to run full & operating AC service in its place is wrong. I hope authorities will give due consideration to these important points and take corrective measures at the earliest.
EDIT: An interesting response I received on Twitter:
23 minutes between 2 Virar fast in evening is really too high and sure recipe for disaster