RVNL, WR back Air-Conditioned Rakes for MUTP Phase III

This comes after the ministry sought the views of the two agencies on the procurement of air-conditioned rakes under MUTP Phase III

MUMBAI: There is some good news for Mumbai’s perennially harried commuter. The city is now almost certain to get 47 air-conditioned rakes as part of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) Phase III. Both the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) and Western Railway (WR) have written to the Railway Ministry that these rakes should be air-conditioned. This comes after the ministry sought the views of the two agencies on the procurement of air-conditioned rakes under MUTP Phase III.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the MUTP Phase III on November 30, 2016.

MRVC Chairman-cum-Managing Director Prabhat Sahai and WR chief spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar confirmed the move. DNA had first reported on this issue in its December 23 edition. Under MUTP III, Western and Central Railways will get 47 rakes, for which Rs 2,899 crore has been earmarked.

Sahai said that since it has already been decided that these rakes would have automatic door-closing mechanism, it was prudent to have air-conditioning as it would increase commuter comfort.

The debate on whether these rakes should be air-conditioned had started among city-based railway officials almost immediately after the CCEA approval.

The logic of those arguing yes, said officials, was that these rakes would start coming in by 2020, since its procurement would have to follow global tendering norms. By then, there would be a robust demand for air-conditioned suburban commuting in Mumbai, if there isn’t one already.

The other reason, said a top-ranking official, was that the current crop of conventional Siemens and Bombardier rakes- cumulatively over 145 – will serve out their life well into the 2030s and adding more conventional rakes under MUTP Phase III might become illogical.

According to officials, at current prices, each rake to be procured under MUTP Phase III would cost Rs 61 crore. This compares well with the cost of the first AC rake- unconnected to MUTP Phase III – which is currently being tested on Central Railway. A Right to Information plea by DNA media to the Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai recently had put the cost of the AC rake at Rs 51.42 crore.

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