by Akhilesh K. Prasad
As Railways begins its first AC local services for Mumbai, let us examine the timeline of government announcements and the delays in implementation.
The Mumbai local AC trains were announced as part of the Railway Budget for 2012-13 by the then UPA government. The trains were then expected to cost Rs.43 crores and were to be procured as a special project, not under Mumbai Urban Transport Project. The service was supposed to begin by March 2013. However, the UPA government postponed the deadline to July 2014.
First AC local train is started today in Mumbai.We welcome this initiative.This idea was conceptualised by us.Had spoken couple of times in Lok Sabha on this issue. @PiyushGoyal must ensure that its fare is affordable for common commuters.
— Sanjay Nirupam (@sanjaynirupam) December 25, 2017
In January 2015, the then Railway Minister, Suresh Prabhu announced that the first AC coaches of the train would be tested by May in the same year.
— Indiacom (@indiacom) April 21, 2016
While work on the train began at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai, the Railway Minister announced a broader plan to introduce a total of 12 such trains.
— News24 (@news24tvchannel) January 13, 2015
After much delay, the train coaches finally arrived in Mumbai in April 2016.
— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) April 7, 2016
The cost of the train reportedly had increased to Rs. 54 crores.
— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) April 5, 2016
However, the trial runs could only begin in November 2016 after further unexplained delays.
— GM MTDC (@GM_MTDC) November 4, 2016
In June 2017, there were reports that the first AC rake could be rolled out by September. Thereafter, 9 more rakes would be procured by the railways. The reports also suggested that either the number of railway yards would be increased, or the capacity of the existing yards in Mumbai would be expanded to accommodate the new rakes.
— Central Railway (@Central_Railway) June 6, 2017
Finally, on December 25th 2017, much to their delight, Mumbaikars got their Christmas present from the Rail Ministry in the form of Mumbai’s first AC local train plying between Churchgate and Virar.
Mumbai’s first AC suburban train service to be launched tomorrow, the train will ply from Churchgate to Virar. The AC local will be launched with a modern & fresh look, reflecting the spirit of Mumbai.https://t.co/wzUR1eAVa7 pic.twitter.com/5CGjrNNHmN
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) December 24, 2017
While some commuters were all praise for the government, others felt it was too little, too late.
First ride on Mumbai’s AC local: Commuters all praise, want more such trains.https://t.co/zUM2VAHF4F
— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) December 26, 2017
Mumbai is the “financial capital” of India and still it got an ac local after 15 years of approval of plan, that too only on Western line and only on certain timing. Not even throughout the day.Sab dilli mei kar rahe hai @narendramodi ji. Utterly disappointed.
— Asheesh Mehrotra (@_ashme) December 25, 2017
We hope that in view of the demand of daily commuters in Mumbai, the government will expedite the implementation of the rest of the plan. Though going by past experience, it appears highly unlikely.