Those who take the Western Railway (WR) route daily can now breathe a sigh of relief. As many as 40 more services are going to be added from April 1 to benefit an average of 35.5 lakh commuters taking the local route.
Better still, 72 more services will be added in the next fiscal, according to railway budget announcements. From next month, three more trains will be added to the 80 already plying, raising the number of services from 1,250 to 1,290, including a ladies-special train. The additional services will also include 9-car, 12-car and 15-car trains.
The capacity of a local is only 1,800 passengers, but over 6,500 commuters travel during peak hours. With the introduction of new services, the overcrowding will reduce by 19.3 per cent, said officials. Earlier, in the year 2006-07, 1,043 services would cater to around 31.07 lakh passengers daily, with 290 being the average number of passengers per coach.
However, now the number of passengers has risen to 35.5 lakh who use 1,250 services, decreasing the population per coach to 241. According to officials, the carrying capacity has increased by 34.75 per cent from 2006-07 till date. After the additional 40 services from next month, the average number of passengers per coach will further fall to 234.
“With increase in services, passengers will get more space to breathe and will be able to stand and sit comfortably,” said a senior railway official. “The services will be on track from April and will run in peak and non-peak hours,” said Sandeep Salias, Divisional Railway Manager, WR. “The time tables and schedules will be announced by mid-March.” However, the passengers are not happy with the additional services.
“It’s a dream come true for us that we will be able to stand comfortably in the local trains. The current situation is horrible. I fear boarding the Virar local during peak hours but am left with no option. I am sure we will not be benefited even though services are being increased,” said Sapna Rajaram, who commutes daily from Bhayender to Marine Lines.
Another daily commuter Rajesh Tuplonde, who travels between Dahisar and Churchgate, said, “The announcement to increase services is done just for the sake of announcing it. We are never benefited and never feel that the space has increased. We are not in a position to even stand properly at present. The authorities will never increase the services in peak hours and we are forced to travel like animals in the local trains.”