Why Railways cannot introduce new train services in Mumbai

Mar 11, 2014, 08:15 IST | Shashank Rao

There is no respite for the citizens of Mumbai as the city will get only 42 of the 72 suburban services announced in the 2013-14 rail budget. What is stopping new train services in tracks? We find out...

There’s no respite in sight for Mumbaikars from the slow and unsteady train that are increasingly becoming the norm rather than the exception on the suburban section. Turns out, the city would only get 42 of the 72 new services announced in last year’s rail budget. 

Acute snarl-ups in the networks and dearth of new rakes are key reasons for the cutback in the proposed projects.

Need more room: Congestion on tracks is a major woe for the railways. Representation pic

To begin with, for the past many weeks, the 34 lakh commuters on Western Railway (WR) are facing delays daily, thanks to the inadequate infrastructure on the Churchgate-Dahanu corridor. This is also why the network is unable to increase services significantly from the existing 1,305 (including 104 services on CST-Andheri harbour line).

Till April 2013, WR had added 20 services. But now it has informed the Railway Board that there is no scope for more services, unless the existing infrastructure is improved. At Borivli, WR is trying to straighten the tracks towards Virar-end to allow smoother crossover points for trains.

The Central Railway doesn’t have sufficient rakes at its disposal to add more services. Presently, CR operates a total of 1,618 services, of which only 785 run on the main line, while 210 function on Thane-Vashi trans-harbour line, and the rest on the CST-Panvel harbour line.

Problems for CR
Sources say that they don’t have adequate number of rakes to add many services immediately. CR authorities are waiting for the two Bombardier rakes to become operational and start plying on WR. Once this happens, WR authorities will send two of their trains to CR, thus helping it augment services. At this point, the two Bombardier rakes are undergoing trial runs.

“We intend to add at least 22 services by March 31,” said Atul Rane, chief PRO, CR. With the introduction of these 22 services on CR and earlier inclusion of 20 services by WR, there is still a difference of 30 services, which wouldn’t happen in this financial year, and will automatically be carried forward to the next one.

Problems for WR
Sources say, presently, platforms 6A, 5 and 3 at Borivli are connected with crossovers for trains to come in from the Virar side. However, the intersection points are too sharp and, at a time, only one train can negotiate it, while the others wait, thus causing delays of 10 minutes.

“We are trying to straighten this line, for which we have already taken 1,250 square feet of land from BMC,” said Shailendra Kumar, DRM, WR. This work is expected to end by September, thus allowing more trains to pass through. Near the Andheri station side, there are over 12 such crossover points that need to undergo change from an 8-degree curve to a 12-degree one. Authorities believe that this will automatically improve the speed of trains from 15 kmph to 30 kmph. Similarly, at Dadar station too, railways are looking at completing work on the sixth line that will ensure smoother transition of trains, which will take more than a year. “There is no space to add any more services until these tasks are complete,” said a senior official.

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