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Local Trains: The Lifeline of Mumbai Rohan Rao.

When a true to the core Mumbaikar utters “Aamchi Mumbai”, the local trains will always be an inseparable element of the true spirits reflected in these. The locals have become a hallmark of Mumbai and one is not surprised to know that the daily commuters call the locals as their first homes; this in not surprising considering the fact that some of them spend more than six hours travelling in these trains day in and day out. The Great Indian Peninsular Railway, which later formed the nucleus of the present day Central Railway, came into existence on April 16, 1853, when the first train on the Indian Sub-continent steamed off from Mumbai to Thane, a modest stretch of only 34 kms. Central Railway has since grown manifold. The suburban townships of Mumbai have to shuttle to and from Mumbai day in and day out from distances well beyond 100 kms. Electric Multiple Units (EMU's) are the lifeline of Mumbai, suburban Mumbai in particular. Given the geographical spread of the population and location of business areas, the rail network is the principal mode of mass transport in Mumbai. The general populace commonly refers to the as local trains. The local trains ply on two zonal railways, the Western Railway (WR) and the Central Railway (CR). The Suburban system in Mumbai is one of the most complex and intensively utilised public transportation systems in the world. Spread over 303 route kilometres, it connects distant regions within the daily manageable commute. The British built the first railway line in India in 1853. This was also the oldest railway system in Asia. The first train ran between Mumbai and Thane, a distance of 34 km. The Bombay Railway History Group has been striving to document railway heritage along this line. The Mumbai Suburban Railway, as well as Indian Railways, is an extension of this sapling planted by the British. Since then lots of radical changes have seen the developments of the suburban railway services. Mr. S.C. Mudgerikar, Chief Public Relation Officer, Central Railway, says, “The first 1500V DC EMUs used around Bombay (the first EMUs in India, 1925) were from Cammell Laird (UK) and Uerdingenwagonfabrik (Germany). Later units were supplied by Breda (Italy) as well. ICF has been building about twenty 9-car AC EMU rakes for Mumbai's system each year.”

food grains. almost 43 percent of the total Mumbai suburban rail traffic. Banks. Mudgerikar. petroleum agricultural products and agro industries are relying on railways for freight purposes. The system carries more than 6. Central Railway Mumbai Division. salt. The Central Line in Mumbai bifurcates as they run into Suburban satellite towns. Motorman. The annual traffic density. fertilizers.6 million passengers per day. refineries. “The suburban services runs 184 rakes of 9-car and 12-car composition are utilized to run 2067 train services. The actual average speed of locals on the slow lines is about 35 km/h and on the fast line about 45-50 km/h. Cement factories. the distant suburbs have become residential zones. and between CST and Andheri. The Harbour Line runs between CST and Panvel. says.4 million commuters on a daily basis and constitutes more than half of the total daily passenger capacity of the Indian Railways itself. The recently introduced AC/DC rakes are capable of 105 km/h during low traffic times. about 255 million passenger-km per km of route. is believed to be the world record for passenger rail transport. government offices and others services and businesses heavily rely on the railways for its sustenance.” . carries about 2. A new broad gauge line running from Panvel to Karjat has further extended this line. “Presently the local trains are capable of maximum speed of 85 km/h in regular service. The Harbour line has been further added as a link between Thane and Vashi. fertilizer factories. Western Railway. Also schools and colleges have many students and staff relying on railways for commuting. software firms. Even a single days stoppage will amount to huge losses. but however don’t provide any employment avenues. mills. Mr. Central From Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to Kalyan it bifurcates to Kasara in the northeast and Karjat–Khopoli in southeast. Owing to this it is natural that the people inhabiting in these suburbs have to travel towards Mumbai for their employment purposes.” says Mr. It has the highest passenger density of any urban railway system in the world. Churchgate to Virar. The populace suburbs depend on the local trains for their daily bread and butter.Owing to population explosion in Mumbai. These two corridors constitute the 'Main' Line. Kundan Lokhande. on an individual basis to the commuters and on a collective basic to the commercial sector. Industries like steel Plants.

who take pride in being called as ‘Dombivlikar’. These units now accommodate four people as against the rated 3. The people. “ says Ganesh K. The rushing in crowd of these ‘Dombivlikars’ has become a trademark along the central line. Bhajans has been a characteristic of the local trains. The railway also tried to introduce air-conditioned compartment to relieve the commuters of the ever-increasing temperatures.. So they seek opportunity during commuting to offer their prayers and also feel relaxed during the stressful journey. Trains on the suburban line are on average more than 4 minutes apart. balanced precariously and hanging on their fingertips. The trains are so much overcrowded that one cannot even find enough floor space to place his feet. 4700 passengers are packed into a 9-car rake during peak hours. It is just impossible for a person to alight at Dombivli during the peak hours. With a super-Dense Crush Load of 14 to 16 standing passengers per square . Managing to find a floor space to place my right foot. with left foot hanging on for some time and then slowly resting on the feet of someone else.” says Mr. People can also be seen travelling on the footboard. Ninad Satpute a Thane resident. just have a knack of rushin-pushing-screaming on top of their voices while entering the local trains. Also maintaining closed compartment where halts are sometimes less than two minutes apart is a big problem. The impending introduction of new higher speed rakes may help address the issue. However hosting in air-conditioned compartment is not only expensive for the commuters to afford. The railways could did not make any further advances in this regard. the brotherhood of Mumbaikars has this undying spirit. “I don’t get the feel of boarding the local if I don’t scream and rush. It’s just absolutely impossible to tell whose foot is trampling on ones feet in the mind boggling and suffocating rush. “Boarding a fast local during peak hours is an ordeal. However this fourth-seat concept did not manage to penetrate the order of the first class compartments. but it also eats up more space. The commuters complain that they have no time to offer prayers to the almighty since they hardly are home. contributing to the problem of overcrowding. as against the rated carrying capacity of 1700. However.Overcrowding has grown to be a compelling problem. even if the train is empty. This has given way to the ‘Fourth-seat’ concept. These rakes are designed to seat three people per unit bench installed. specifically in the secondclass compartments. a resident of Dombivli.

This is believed to be the highest number of fatalities per year on any urban or suburban railway system. Perambur. “There are plans to change the DC section to 25kV Alternating Current (AC) by 2010. the fact that millions of people have their lives dependent on it and the . The cost of the rail component of the project is to be shared equally by Ministry of Railways and Government of Maharashtra. which carries millions of commuters everyday. next to be converted is KhopoliVangani.5kV DC traction regions. Although. People are even seen traveling on the rooftops and standing on the window bars to commute to their destinations. Plans have been in place to convert the entire Virar-Churchgate section to 25KV AC since a long time. “The Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation Ltd (MRVC Ltd).” It is a really huge operational challenge to carry out the conversion work without affecting the suburban EMU traffic. BHEL has been retrofitting some EMUs with AC drives to allow them to operate with both DC and AC traction as the system conversion proceeds. Mudgerikar. a public sector unit of the Government of India under the Ministry of Railways. The Ministry of Railways and the Government of Maharashtra have jointly envisioned the constitution of a separate corporate entity to operate the system. was incorporated under to implement the rail component of an integrated rail-cum-road urban transport project. called Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP). Whatever be the present status of the Mumbai suburban railways. Under the MUTP the city would be receiving newly designed coaches manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory. In preparation for this. Pitambaran.500 people die on the Mumbai suburban railway track due to overcrowding during peak hours. Vangani-Thane. Yearly more than 3. Senior Public Relation Officer says. To enable the Mumbai Suburban Railway to meet the demands of the ever-growing passenger traffic. C.” Says Mr. and Titwala-Thane. BHEL has recently developed some AC-DC EMUs for use in the Bombay area in both the 25kV AC and 1. one struggles to find a footing.meter of floor space. it will be atleast three to four years more till the entire section. Mr. Conversion to 25kV AC has already been done on the Titwala-Kasara section. there have been some great milestones achieved.

.essence and flavour it carries along with it truly and exclusively belongs to ‘Aamchi Mumbai’.