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AC locals fail to chug in the numbers

11:30 PM Sep 30, 2021 | Shashank Rao

Since the last few days, the Railways are not leaving any stone unturned to promote its air-conditioned and semi-AC local trains in the city.

According to the latest figures, 13,65,723 monthly-season tickets (MST)s have been sold since August 11. Of these, barely 0.22 per cent are for AC locals.

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Until September 28, the Western and Central railway collectively sold 3,019 MSTs. Here, the WR fared better as it sold 2,374 MSTs for its AC coach, while the demand on the CR was a pitiful 645.

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From August 11-31, the WR sold 750 MSTs for its AC locals which went up to 1,624 MSTs from September 1-28. While the CR sold 245 MSTs in August and 400 MSTs in September during the same period.

Currently, the WR and CR run 22 AC services daily. Officials claim that the main reason for low footfall is less number of AC services. Though the two railways have eight to 10 AC trains in their fleet, only few are functional. Moreover, there is a need to operate these trains during peak hours. On September 30, the Free Press Journal had reported about the possibility of running semi-AC trains rather than a 12-car AC local. Even the recent online survey conducted showed that people would prefer to travel by semi-AC trains comprising rather than non-AC ones.

In order to make the service popular, the Railways need to add more services. “If we decide to introduce an extra AC train then it would mean taking away 10 to 12 non-AC services. The passenger associations’ then start opposing, making it a problem,” said a senior railway official.

Also, fares are on the higher side which is not feasible for everyone. However, railway officials agree that under the current situation, semi-AC trains is the future.

Meanwhile, statistics also show that people prefer second class over first class. Since August 11, only 11.19% have bought first class passes on both the lines. While the CR has sold 1,00,261 MSTs, WR has sold 52,619 MSTs for first class. The officials feel that Covid-19 has affected its coffers. Also, many people have lost their jobs, forcing them to change from first class to second.

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