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Mumbai: Vande Metro To Replace AC Local Trains

Mumbai: In a big development for Mumbai’s transportation system, the Ministry of Railways has issued a concise, five-point directive to the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) on Friday, instructing them to upgrade Mumbai’s local trains to the sophisticated Vande Metro (suburban) trains.

Under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) 3 and 3A, the MRVC has been tasked with procuring 238 trains of Vande Metro (suburban). These MUTP projects receive funding from both the state and central governments to enhance the city’s rail network by introducing new corridors and trains.

The directive also states that the government-run railway factories will not manufacture the trains. Instead, technology partners will be contracted to undertake their production while adhering to the Make in India guidelines. Furthermore, the technology partner will establish the two car depots approved under MUTP III & 3A projects, located at Vangaon on Western Railway and Bhivpuri on Central Railway.

The ministry has granted the MRVC permission to invite tenders for the project, emphasizing stringent maintenance requirements for the next 35 years. The planning body will consult Western and Central Railway to determine the need for 12/15 car trains.

Presently, there are only 14 AC local trains in Mumbai: 12 with electrics from Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), one detachable train with electricals from Medha Servo Drives Pvt Ltd, and another with underslung equipment. Official figures indicate that Western Railway operates 76 services with around six trains, while Central Railway runs five trains with 56 services. The last AC train dispatched from the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) arrived in Mumbai in December 2022, and no further trains have been expected or ordered since then.

AC Local aka Vande Metro

The upcoming AC local trains that will be procured for Mumbai are being referred to as Vande Metro. According to MRVC CMD Gupta, these trains will possess similar functionalities to the Vande Bharat trains but will be customized specifically for Mumbai’s suburban routes.

A notable feature of the Vande Metro trains will be the inclusion of luggage compartments at both ends, each equipped with a separate AC duct. Additionally, CCTVs will be installed onboard. To prevent the spread of fish odor across compartments, a separate AC duct will be allocated for the vendors’ compartment.

Sources indicate that the Vande Metro trains will resemble an advanced version of the AC local trains that arrived in Mumbai in December of the previous year. These 12-car AC local trains feature walkthrough vestibules and have all electricals and equipment positioned underneath near the wheels. They are capable of accommodating more passengers than regular AC trains.

Furthermore, the trains incorporate lightweight flexi solar panels on their roofs, generating 3.6 kW of electricity. These panels power the coach’s fans and lights, reducing the reliance on overhead power supply. The implementation of this innovation is being tested in one coach, and its extension to other coaches will depend on the feedback received.

While passenger associations have expressed their approval for the introduction of Vande Metro trains on the local line, they continue to express concerns regarding the premium fare rates. According to Subhash Gupta, a member of one such association, the average Mumbaikar cannot afford to travel in the AC local trains, and they hope that the fare for a single journey will be comparable to that of Metro trains to ensure wider acceptance of the Vande Metro service.

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