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First look: your swank AC Metro
An AC compartment of Metro Railway in the final stages of construction

Metro Railway’s first air-conditioned rake is set to join its ageing fleet this weekend but commuters will have to wait another month to set foot on the factory-fresh train.

The first of the proposed 13 air-conditioned rakes is being rolled out of the Integral Coach Factory at Perambur, Tamil Nadu, around 10 months beyond schedule. The other 12 will be built only after the first one gets the “fitness” nod from experts.

“We expect the new train to be given a fitness certificate within a month of trial runs,” said a senior official of Metro Railway, struggling to keep pace with the clock because of regular snags.

Metro had reported on Wednesday how the city’s transport lifeline had become a laggard, averaging a five-minute delay for every train over the past one month. Three of the 18 old rakes are out of service.

On Thursday, Metro Railway officials spoke about how the air-conditioned rake could alter the face of what is still the city’s first-choice transport for most commuters. “We have got a new grey-and-blue colour combination, which represents a fresh start for us. The AC rake will not only be more comfortable for passengers but also safer. It has improved braking and suspension systems designed to curb jerking,” an official explained.

But how does Metro Railway intend coping with the rush to board the only AC rake around?

“We have found a way to get around the problem. We won’t announce when the AC train will run. Basically, it will be a matter of luck whether you get to board that rake at a particular time of day,” the official said.

The fare will be the same for the AC and non-AC rakes. Eleven of the old rakes are to be phased out while the remaining seven will be upgraded to AC coaches.

Text by Sanjay Mandal

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