Mumbai: As the first air-conditioned Mumbai local or EMU (electrical multiple unit) made its inaugural journey from Borivali in the western suburbs of the city to Churchgate, Mumbaikers gladly accepted their "Christmas gift". NDTV took a ride on the first Mumbai AC local that will change the way the city travels in local trains.
The fully air-conditioned 12-coach train was flagged off from Borivali at 10.30 am by railway officials, BJP leaders, local lawmaker Gopal Shetty and Maharashtra's Education Minister Vinod Tawde.
"AC trains are must in Metropolitan cities such as Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata where people have to battle heat and dust on their way to office. They can now travel comfortably. This I hope will encourage more people to use public transport along with the Metro. This will take more cars off the road and reduce congestion," Mr Tawde told NDTV.
Passengers on the train welcomed the introduction of the AC local train and the added safety features. In normal trains, open doors lead to people falling off crowded trains but with closed doors, railways say, the scope of accidents is limited.
"It's great to be among the first passengers on the AC local. I'd like to thank the railways for this Christmas present to Mumbaikars. This will surely encourage more people to take the trains instead of using their cars," a commuter told NDTV.
"The automatic doors will keep us safe and the AC makes it comfortable too. The emergency communicator, a safety feature in which passengers can directly communicate with the guard of the train, is impressive," a passenger said.
Another feature that has been introduced for the first time on local trains is the vestibule which will allow passengers to go from one coach to another without getting off the train.
Initially, the train will run between Borivali and Churchgate and will be extended up to Virar. The AC trains will replace 12 existing non-air conditioned services - six services in up and six in down direction. The services will be available on weekdays only and won't operate on Saturdays and Sundays to keep them free for maintenance purposes.