Launching an AC local train in Mumbai was a blunder. Western railway should have launched it as a first-class train with the same ticket fare.
They would then start replacing the First-class bogies in the regular trains with AC ones. By doing so, they can gradually upgrade the entire first-class over the years.
This way, it could have helped them assess if they should launch more AC trains or should they focus on upgrading the first-class bogies.
By launching it as an AC train, which has limited services, it is seen more as a tourist/leisure train instead of a commuter train.
Such trains may be used by the commuters who are at leisure when it comes to their work timings and is not in a hurry to reach somewhere.
The low frequency is a significant factor why a commuter doesn’t consider or rely on the AC local train because he cannot wait for another 30 minute or an hour.
Once the first-class bogies are replaced with AC, they can be increased from 3 to 6 or more over the years. Or maybe the entire train after a decade.
Because the local trains are going to lose some revenue due to the competition arising from the metro lines after 5 or 7 years, they will have no option but to upgrade the entire local train to AC, reduce the price a little bit, and attract commuters.
Remember what BEST did recently with their 5 rupees plan. This is the right time for the western railway to start preparing for the competition.
The western railway could profit more with First class, instead of AC local.
When you tag a train as an AC train, you have to run the AC at the same temperature during winter and monsoon also, because it is an AC train.
But in the first class, which should be tagged as ‘upgraded first-class‘, which also has an AC now, doesn’t mean the western railway cannot adjust the temperature during day and night in winter and monsoon to save their electricity consumptions.