Mumbai Local Train Rush Solutions

Image of a train wheels and track

Mumbai is famous not only for its Vada Pav, Chaats and Bollywood, but also for its local trains. It is with the help of these local trains that the Dabba Walas deliver their tiffins with 99.99% on-time rate. It is by using this very means of transport that lakhs of residents of this city commute daily to their workplaces. However, given the enormous opportunities in the city, thousands of people come here daily in an effort to find a livelihood and in the process add to its numbers. Although, the population of the city has grown drastically over the years, the capacity of the local trains hasn’t grown enough to match the growth in population. This has led to increase in the rush in trains during the peak hours.
Having said all this, we need to look at some possible ways to solve this. Read more to find out the potential solutions.

1. Cyclic Ordered TimeTable: Every local train in mumbai is not destined for the same station. Some are for Churchgate, some for Dadar, some for andheri, ……borivali, bandra and so on. But it is very common for individuals wanting to go to Andheri boarding a churchgate bound local, or a Borivali destined commuter to take a Dadar bound train; just because of the availibility of options at the very time the commuter wants to travel. All so because there are windows of upto 30 mins for which you would not find a Andheri(or any other destination) bound train. What if the train time table are ordered in such a way as to repeat the order every given number of minutes and also remove some halts.In such a case there is a high possibility that the person would take the train destined to the place where he wants to go. Removing some halts would also reduce the travel time by upto 15%.

Example:
9:00 am: Borivali
9:03 am: Andheri
9:06 am: Churchgate

9:09 am : Borivali
9:12 am: Andheri
9:15 am: Churchgate

9:18 am : Borivali
9:21 am: Andheri
9:24 am: Churchgate

By this way, there is a great possibility that a person who wants to go to Borivali will board a Borivali local instead of boarding a Andheri or Churchgate bound local. It can even be enforced in such a way by having the Churchgate bound local to not halt at andheri for which there are other trains. Implementation of such a time table would first require the railway authorities to peek at the overall distribution of commuters based on destination.

Link of a related article

2. Redesigned Coaches: Another solution can be to redesign the interior of the coaches in such a way as to use as much space as possible to accommodate more commuters. TCS, a well known and largest IT services provider in India runs a no-seater bus transport in chennai from the entrance of one of the IT park to the office gate, which is around 2 km from the IT park entrance. During peak times, even in our local trains 85%(or may be even more) of the commuters are standing. However, the rest 15% of the commuter who are seated do not take 15% of space but more actually, may be they take 25-30% of available space roughly. If the seats are reduced and restructured to be only positioned at the corners just like the metro trains, there would be a lot of vacant space available after that. Most commuters would still be ok travelling standing with enough room to free their body, than to travel with little room for movement as in rush hour situation.To add to the design, 90% seats can be made foldable and can be allowed to open only in non-peak hours, to allow room for very few seats in peak hours.

Image of a spacious coach for Mumbai
Rough example of such a design

3. Elevated Corridor: There had been news in various media, of plans to develop an upper level local train track right above the existing one. However, there is not much of a confirmation on this. Whether the railways has given a green signal or not, this solution also has a good potential to downsize the rush. The reduction in this case is easy to calculate as 40-50% reduction, as the passengers would be equally divided. Instead of putting thousands of crores of rupees to build various metros, which may be state of the art but aren’t a great solution to provide better public transport, leaving aside a minority of commuters which are benefited from the lavish projects, the government should be spending it here.

Image of elevated Railway station in Mumbai
Elevated Corridor WR Artist Design

Link of the railway’s old report on this

4.Office shift timings mandate: This solution does not need any change from the railways. but from the Corporates and institutes in the city. The rush in mumbai locals in not the same through out the day. Since, the usual reporting time of office goers(even businessmen normally follow the same timings) in the city is between 9 to 11 am and also, most of the people leave office in between 5 to 7 pm in the evening, the trains and roads are also almost free for the rest of the time. If the commuters can be spread across times by having a mandate by the government to have atleast 3 or more shifts (example: 6-3, 8-5, 10-7, 12-9, 2-11), it would be nice for commuters. It can mandated by the government to have a minimum percent of the total number of employees in each shift. There should be a definite advantage and the result would be a reduction in rush, not only in local trains but also on the roads.

Link of a recent ‘The Hindu’ article talking about such an implementation.

All these solutions have pro’s and con’s but atleast they provide some scope to achieve improvement in the city dweller’s commute. So the government needs to look at the solutions listed above and others, and look for ways to improve the existing rather than putting lakhs of crores of rupees to build new Sci-Fi infrastructures.

Image of a Smiling passenger in Mumbai Local
Room for Smile

Note: All the above solutions are just a list of potential solution and would need proper analysis before implementing any or a mix of the them.

Intro Image Credit: MrWildLife via freedigitalphotos.net