The city's first air-conditioned local will finally start getting constructed this week.
Railway officials claim that this comes on the back of the satisfactory results of the train's motor's electrical trials conducted at Bhopal.
"The trial report should be coming in by September 15 and the progress on it is good. So, the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai can start work on physically building the coaches and interiors," said a senior railway official.
The plan, said railway officials, is to complete the 12-coach rake by December and hand it over to Western Railway (WR) for field trials in Mumbai. "The various equipment required for the train as well as the vestibule have all been brought in. Work can now begin," said an official.
What this means is that the AC local, in all probability, would miss its second railway budget-imposed deadline. "With WR taking so many months to test the new Bombardier rake, we wouldn't expect them to finish field trials of the first ever AC local for Mumbai, in say, three months. Which means even if ICF sends the rake by December, the trials will take it into the middle of next year," said the official.
The project has been a perfect example of the way Mumbai's suburban system has found itself in the blind spot of the railway board. It was first announced in the Railway budget for 2012-213, and was supposed to be up and running by March 2013. The railway ministry under the UPA government had announced that it would be commissioned by July 2014. This deadline was, however, rejected as 'impossible' almost immediately by city-based railway officials.
As reported earlier by dna in its March 7 edition, the layout and other technicalities of the AC train was approved by the railway board only as late as the first week of March. The train, expected to cost Rs43.2 crore, will have seats similar to the local trains currently running in Mumbai with some coaches being connected by vestibules.