Mumbai trains may be fully air-conditioned with World Bank funding

Mumbai trains may be fully air-conditioned with World Bank funding

Mumbai’s local train services may be fully air-conditioned with financial assistance from World Bank after the railways received positive feedback from commuters to the lone AC local that has been deployed on the Western Railway. Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal who was in Mumbai last weekend was briefed about the feedback from the public on the air-conditioned local train and is receptive to the idea, according to railway officials here.

Retro-fitting the entire fleet of existing ‘local’ trains with air-conditioning would cost the railways as much as Rs 60 crore per rake, say officials. Most of the 245 EMUs, or electrical motorised units as the trains are called in the railway lingo, plying in the suburban sections of Western and Central railways have been purchased recently under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project. Each rake has a lifespan of around 25 years, according to officials.

The railways have already placed orders for another 210 rakes for deployment in the Mumbai metropolitan region and these could be manufactured as air-conditioned trains from scratch, say sources. With the railways strapped for cash, sources say officials have suggested tapping the World Bank for funding. The international lending agency has already provided funds for MUTP under which railway equipment is being upgraded.

However, the authorities’ attempts to obtain funding for purchase of new rakes have been stuck with WB officials raising issues of safety.  World Bank officials have asked the railways to ensure that the doors of trains shut while in motion. Attempts to do so failed as commuters in crowded trains complained of suffocation.

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