Mumbai: The rail budget Tuesday brought a much anticipated announcement -- of air-conditioned (AC) coaches on the suburban trains used by nearly eight million commuters daily and considered Mumbai's lifeline.
Mumbaikars have been demanding AC coaches on suburban trains for long but their demand failed to materialise in successive budgets in the past few years.
"Right now, we cannot set a date when AC coaches will be added to suburban trains or whether there will be a separate AC charge applicable. But the work will be taken up in right earnest during the current year itself," a Western Railway official told IANS, declining to be named.
Another major announcement is the proposal for an elevated railway corridor, in planning stage for some years.
"A feasibility report on the project between Churchgate and Virar has already been completed. Very soon, we will sign a State Support Agreement with Maharashtra government, followed by a bidding process and then implementing the project," the official said.
Mumbai commuters will also get 72 additional services on the suburban section of the Western Railway, Central Railway and Harbour Line, details of which are being worked out and will be announced soon.
Besides these announcements which directly affect Mumbai suburban commuters, Railway Minister P.K. Bansal offered more new trains, services, extensions and other facilities for Mumbai and Maharashtra.
These include new trains on Central Railway: Ajni (Nagpur)-Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) Mumbai Express; Hazrat Nizamuddin-Mumbai AC Express; Hubli-Mumbai Express; LTT-Kochuveli Express; Nizamabad-LTT Express; Puri-Sai Nagar Shirdi Express; Chennai-Nagarsol Express (for Sai Nagar Shirdi); LTT-Ramnagar Express; LTT-Jaisalmer Express; LTT-Hisar Express; LTT-Haridwar Express (weekly) via Valsad (all weekly); Kakinada-Mumbai Express (bi-weekly) and Mumbai-Solapur Express (six days).
There will be four new passing-through trains on Central Railway and two on the Western Railway time tables.
A new daily passenger train service has been approved between Amravati and Narkhed.
Several trains have been extended to better serve passengers on long-distance routes.
They are: 12145/12146 LTT-Bhubaneswar Express to Puri, 12545/12546 LTT-Darbhanga Express to Raxaul after gauge conversion, 22107/22108 Mumbai CST-Latur Express to Hazoor Saheb Nanded, 16535/16536 Solapur-Yesvantpur Express to Mysore, 51183/51184 Bhusaval-Amravati Passenger to Narkhed, and 12449/12450 Madgaon-Hazrat Nizamuddin Express to Chandigarh.
The frequencies of seven long-distance trains, including five on Central Railway and two on Western Railway, have been increased offering more accommodation and journey flexibility to passengers.
This year, surveys for new lines will be taken up at Pandharpur-Vijapur via Mangalwedha, Vasai Road-Byepass line between Naigoan and Diva (Juchandra), and Washim-Mahur-Adilabad.
One new gauge conversion project will be taken up between Nagpur-Nagbhir, doubling of lines between Daund-Manmad, Parbhani-Manmad and Kalyan-Karjat (third line), while an ongoing doubling project between Apta-Jite will be completed this year.
Nagpur will get a Rail Neer mineral water bottling plant, an executive lounge and a multi-disciplinary training institute on rail-related electronics technologies.