Mumbai local snippets
The crush has been easing on Mumbai’s suburban trains with the introduction of new coaches, and the trend is expected to continue over the next year.Under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) Phase 1, the city has already received 94 new 12-car rakes. Another 35, at an average of three a month, are expected to be pumped into the system by June 2011. “Presently, during peak hours, for every person sitting there are four people standing. This is expected to reduce to two to three people standing for each person sitting in the next four years,’’ said P C Sehgal, managing director, Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC). Since 2005-06 to July 2011, the number of daily Central Railway (CR) services has risen from 1,203 to 1,556, with 12-car services rising from 218 to a whopping 577 and 9-car services dropping from 499 to 205 in that same period. Daily harbour services have increased from 468 to 566 and trans-harbour (Thane-Navi Mumbai) from 18 to 208.
Correspondingly, Western Railway (WR) now runs 1,210 daily services as opposed to 1,017 in 2005-06. The number of 12-car services has risen from 435 to 788 in that period and WR has also been running 12 15-car services a day since 2009-10. Sehgal said that since the new rakes have made their way into the city, there has been a 20% reduction in passenger congestion in CR trains and 17% on WR trains.
Interestingly, on CR, as the daily passenger traffic increased from 30.84 lakh to 34.32 lakh from 2005-06 to 2007-08, the number of passengers per coach rose from 269 to 285 in the same period. The next year, 2008-09, even as the number of daily passengers climbed to 35.92 lakh, the passenger-per-coach load dropped to 257, indicating the boon the new rakes have brought to commuters. Since 2004-05, the introduction of up to 208 trans-harbour services in Thane and Navi Mumbai has also helped lower CR’s overall passengers-per-coach ratio.
On WR, even though daily passenger numbers have risen from 30.8 lakh to 33.1 lakh since 2005-06, the number of passengers per coach has been steadily dropping. The big dip came from 2006-07 to 2008-09 when the figure went from 290 to 257. Incidentally, many commuters say they are yet to feel the relief indicated by the railways’ statistics. “I haven’t seen any positive change in the way I have travelled in the past half a decade. The crowds have only increased and trains are always late, especially on the Western line. They are invariably behind schedule by at least 10 to 15 minutes everyday,’’ said banker Sujay Singh, a Borivli resident.
Speaking on the new rakes, Sehgal said, “The rakes come at a rate of three to four a month and the 101st rake is expected to come in October.’’ MRVC is working on releasing a special postal cover on the occasion, similar to the one released when the first rake came to the city. The new rakes are used to not only introduce new services but also augment 9-car services into 12-car ones. Senior WR officials said that the future of WR is in running 15-car rakes. Chief PRO, WR, S S Gupta said, “Our short-term plan is to introduce three more stops for 15-car rakes at Nalasopara, Bhayander and Mira Road stations. Work on this will be completed in two months.’’ Long-term plans include checking the possibility of having 15-car trains run upto to Churchgate. Presently WR has 23 9-car trains in its fleet which, subject to the availability of new trains and DC-AC conversion, will be converted to 12-car trains by the end of this fiscal year.
CR officials aren’t gung-ho about 15-car locals. They are concentrating on converting 9-car trains into 12-car ones. Chief PRO, CR, S C Mudgerikar said, “Presently, all fast trains are 12-car ones and, by the end of this year, 80% of all main-line trains would be augmented from 9-car ones,’’ he said.