Mumbai's chances of having a local train with automatic sliding doors, to prevent commuters falling off overcrowded compartments, may take two years to build as the railway bureaucracy debates three design options.
The railway board had given the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai three options for the automatic sliding door train project.
The first option is to have automatic sliding doors but without vestibules or air-conditioning (AC). The ICF estimates it would cost Rs39 crore, which is Rs5 crore more than the Rs34 crore spent on building the Bombardier rake. It would take about 18 months to build, if the permissions come in the next few weeks, sources said.
The second option is to have automatic sliding doors and vestibules but no air-conditioning and this would cost Rs41 crore. This would take about 22 months to build. Also, due to the separate passenger categories, like first class, ladies and handicap, the maximum number of vestibules would be six.
The third option is to build a train with automatic doors that will have vestibules as well as air-conditioning. The sources said this is estimated to cost Rs43 crore and would take more than 24 months to build.
But the officials have criticized the first option as being primitive and they are certain that this would be rejected outright by Mumbaikars.
"A train with doors shut but no AC will see a reduction in the air flow in the compartment by 50 per cent. That will be a nightmare in Mumbai's suburban crush situation," an official said.
There is a cost difference of just Rs2 crore between the second and third options, officials said. "Isn't it best that the Mumbaikar gets the third option if the cost difference is just Rs 2 crore," a senior official said.
This debate over the three options will likely delay the project considerably, the officials agreed, prolonging the risk travellers suffer. Every year, about 700 people die after falling from overcrowded trains in Mumbai.
The three options
The first option is that the train with doors will neither have vestibules nor air-conditioning. It would cost Rs39 crore and take about 18 months to build.
The second option is to have vestibules, but no air-conditioning. It would cost Rs41 crore and take about 22 months to build.
The third, is to have vestibules as well as air-conditioning and this would cost an estimated Rs43 crore. It could take more than 24 months to build.