Pune: The electrical multiple unit (EMU) local train service for the Pune-Lonavla route completed 35 years on Monday, a small landmark which went unnoticed by the suburban railway commuters as they went about their work, travelling on the very same trains. It was on March 11, 1978, that the Central Railway introduced the EMU local trains on the Pune-Lonavla section. The EMU services until then were operational only in Mumbai and other metros.
Before the EMU service was introduced between Pune and Lonavla, commuters travelled in regular second class compartment trains. The EMU service helped commuters travel between the two places in far less time as compared to the regular trains.
While the regular trains moved at a slow speed, the EMU trains can pick up high speed in a few seconds. Moreover, in the regular trains, the electric locomotives had to be changed from one end to other end at the terminal stations — Pune and Lonavla. The process was time consuming, as compared to the EMU locals where the train can start from the terminal stations for its return journey within three to five minutes.
At present, the EMU local trains cover the 63-km distance between Pune and Lonavla within one and half hours as compared to the earlier trains which took two and half hours with stoppages at intermediate stations.
Old-time commuter Madhukar Kulkarni recalled that, initially, when the EMU train service was introduced, the number of trips (as compared to the earlier number of trips) had reduced because of less number of EMUs. The railways subsequently provided more EMUs for the convenience of the commuters.
At present, the EMU locals make 40 trips, some of which are between Pune and Talegaon. Two trips originate and terminate at Shivajinagar. Three years ago, the railways replaced 9-car trains with 12-car trains which also benefitted commuters. The railways, at present, are also operating one 13-car train. However, the 13th compartment is not being used as the platform length of some of the stations is too short to accommodate 13 car trains.
For the past few years, there has been a persistent demand by the railway commuters to increase the frequency of the local trains, at least during peak hours. Former member of the divisional railway users committee, Gulamali Bhaldar said, “The number of commuters travelling by local trains has increased considerably. There is heavy rush in trains during peak hours. We have sent memorandums to the railway authorities to increase the frequency of trains.”
Bhaldar, who is also the executive president of the Chinchwad Pravasi Sangh, said that from now on, the sangh will organize a commuters’ awareness campaign every year on March 11 which will discuss the issues of the suburban commuters.
A railway official said the administration was aware about the issues of the commuters.