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City Metro to launch first AC rake on Mahalaya

KOLKATA: Metro Railway will start running one air-conditioned rake from October 7 (Mahalaya) when railway minister Mamata Banerjee plans to throw open the stretch between Garia Bazaar (Kavi Nazrul) and New Garia. This will not be the first prototype delivered by Integral Coach Factory, Perambur though, as it had a large number of technical flaws.
"We shall run the second prototype which was much better. The first one had a lot of problems. This was due to lack of synchronization between various parts that were procured from several vendors. We sent a report after checking the first prototype. Changes were made in the second one accordingly," said S K Das, chief operations manager, Metro Railway.
While the new rake will bring some relief to officials involved in operation of services, it will not allow reduction in the lag period between two trains. The frequency of trains can be increased only after the signalling system is upgraded. Work on this has already started. Officials are, however, trying to increase the time during which trains run at six minute intervals.
"We are trying to work out a schedule through which we can run more trains at six minute intervals. Hopefully, this will come as a relief to passengers," Das said.
The Metro carries over six lakh commuters daily. After the stretch up to New Garia is thrown open, the number of commuters will go up. Apart from crowded trains, a problem being faced by commuters is with the entry and exit turnstile gates. A large number of the gates have developed problems and smart cards have been rendered useless. Commuters are also facing trouble with multi-ride tickets. Officials said that an agency has been appointed to replace the gates and new opens should be in place in the next six months.
Though an airconditioned rake will start running from October 7, the Metro does not have plans to increase fares at the moment. The Railway Board has asked officials to prepare a new fare scheme that may be introduced after all rakes are airconditioned. Metro has already placed orders for 11 more rakes in the first phase. Officials believe that all of these should be delivered by the end of 2011. Metro fares have not gone up in the last 10 years. There was some minor adjustment when the stretch between Tollygunge (Mahanayak Uttam Kumar) and Kavi Nazrul was thrown open.
"We were contemplating introducing a special fare for those who wish to use the airconditioned rake but this would have led to trouble. It would not be possible to make out at exactly which time this rake would be passing through a particular station. There would also be no way of stopping commuters from boarding the airconditioned rake with tickets for normal ones," an official said.

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