Lifeline of Mumbai!


Bombay renamed to Mumbai in 1996 is the largest city of India and capital of finance and home to Bollywood, home to the largest film industry in world. Known as “city of dreams” people from all parts of country come to this city to fulfill their dreams. Mumbai is an alpha world city and the only one from India. one of the world’s top ten centers of commerce in terms of global financial flow with Nariman Pt. is among one of the top ten places in world having highest commercial office price. Mumbai is the fifth most populous city in the world.


Marine Drive: One of the most visited place of Mumbai


Mumbai: The city with highest number of skyscrapers in the World (2013).

16th April,1853, 1535 hrs the first train in India ran between Boribunder (Now Chatrapatti Shivaji Terminus) and Thana (Now Thane) Railway Station covering 34 kms with city having a population of around 8 lakhs. 161 years later in 2014 this network is wide spread to about 465 kms with city population of 20.5 millions operating 2342 services per day. Statistics of Mumbai Suburban Train are Jaw dropping!! Mumbai Suburban Trains are referred to as simply “local” by Mumbaikars. Number of people travelling in locals per day is equal to or greater than many city like HONG KONG and countries like Finland, Singapore, Denmark, Ireland, New zeland. Trains Ferry up to 7.24 million people per day. Only two rapid transit system in the World handles as much crowd as Mumbai trains can handle.


First train in India over Thana bridge.

Mumbai Suburban trains have mainly two networks classified as central railway and western railway as classified by Indian railway. Central railway also consist of harbour line and trans harbour line. Western line starts from Churchgate and ends at Dahanu railway station(120 kms from Churhcgate). Fast line exsist up to Borivali railway station. fast locals do not halt at all stations. Central Railway starts from Mumbai Chattrapatti Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, earlier referred as Victoria Terminus up to Kalyan station. After Kalyan Line get separated into two tracks up to Kasara (121 kms from Mumbai CST) and Khopoli (115 kms from Mumbai CST). Fast trains run till kalyan station. Harbour lne starts at Mumbai CST up to Wadala station from where it gets diverted to Andheri and Panvel station. No fast trains ply on Harbour route. Trans-harbour line starts from thane upto Vashi/ Panvel station. 1-2 Fast trains ply between thane and panvel during peak hours.

Central and Western line mainly consist of 12 coach trains. While harbour line still uses 9 coach trains. Some trains on western and
Central line are of 15 coach. Mumbai Trains consist of first class and second class coach. First class coach are marked by red strips
on platform as well as coaches and ticket of first class coach is more than second class coach. During peak hour second class and first class are equally crowded. Coaches are also reserved for Ladies in both second class(no strips or green strips) and first class (red or blue strips). Ladies First class coaches are reserved for only 0700 hrs to 2300 hrs. Mumbai Trains have Ladies coach due to large population of working women in Mumbai. Have you heard beep sounds on the platforms of Mumbai? ever came to know what they indicate? No they do not resemble the clock. They are used for blind people to track their coach on the platform. A nice and unique way of help. 3 parts of coaches at different ends of local are reserved for cancer and handicapped people and other 3 referred as goods compartment mainly used by dabbawalla’s (Lunch-box deliver) and machiwalla’s (Fisherman). Parts of coach are reserved for elderly people (60 yrs and above) for evening peak hours, but hardly people know it and hence mostly not followed as it is combined with second class coach.


Superman or idiots?

24 hrs round the clock their is one or more train plying on tracks of Mumbai. Considering Mumbai CST, first train departs at 0405 hrs while last one departs at 0038 hrs while at Churchgate first local departs at 0415 hrs while last one at 0100 hrs. Trains on western and central slow line run at frequency of 4 mins and up to 3 mins in peak hours. since trains run in north south direction, peak hour in morning is in up direction i.e. towards Mumbai CST/ Churchgate while in evening peak direction is in down direction i.e. towards Virar/ Kalyan. Most of the days locals are on time. Time difference between two trains is at its minimum value, hence in order to reduce rush during peak hours the only possible solution is increasing the no. of coaches and effective implementation of the time table.

Super dense crush load is a term use to describe the rush during peak hour in locals. Each coach has seating capacity of 98 person
and standing capacity of 88 persons. Thus a 12 coach can ferry up to while 2250 persons. In REALITY A train ferry up to 6000 plus persons with an average of 14-16 person per sq meter. Just Imagine!! it takes a lot of effort to get into such local. Mumbai Trains doors do not get closed as it does in various metro systems around the world. Hence many people travel at the edge of doors leaning out of the trains as well as on Roof tops.


People in “Ready Mode” to get inside local as it approaches station.

Mumbai is only city in the world to not only have a coach but a special train for ladies. The first ladies special ran way back in the year 1992. All the compartments in this train are reserved for women only. One up and down local run on central railway between Kalyan ans CST as well as harbour and trans-harbour as ladies special each day while three locals run as ladies special on Up and down direction on western railway between Churchgate and Borivali.


Ladies Coach of Mumbai Local


Ladies wait on platform as a local is arriving.


Wonder what would be the condition of Gents coach?

Dabahwalla are persons to deliver home made meals for office goers. Most of the people leave home early to reach office on time and hence miss out on home made meals. Dabahwalla’s deliver food made by house wives from various parts of the city to the office. Mumbai local trains have coach reserved for dabahwalla’s. Around 5000 semi literate dabahwalla in their traditional clothes with “Gandhi” cap deliver meal to 2,00,000 people on daily basis. All they use in Mumbai local trains and a marker to identify the box!! They have an efficiency of 99.9% with no paper work or computer! Prince Charles met dabahwalla’s on his visit to Mumbai and had to change his schedule to meet with the busy schedule of dabawalla’s. He also invited them to his wedding in London. The New York Times reported in 2007 that the 125-year-old dabbawala industry continues to grow at a rate of 5–10% per year. Whether it is floods or delayed time schedule of local trains, their system works on all 6 days of week. They have a ISO 9001:2000 certification and their have been myth that they were awarded six sigma tag by Forbes magazine in the year 1998.

Dabbawala,the lifeline of Mumbai.

Dabahwalla at Churchgate Railway Station


Dabahwalla in Action

On an average 10 people die on the tracks of Mumbai. But This figure is too old and would be high at present. Most of the people die while crossing tracks, travelling on roof tops, leaning out of running train and boarding or alighting a running train. People often lose their hands and legs by falling in the gap between train and platforms while boarding a running train. Various programs are conducted by railways to make people aware of fatalities caused by roof top travel or crossing tracks but people hardly learn a lesson except themselves meeting with a accident. People travel on the roof of trains with risk of getting electrocuted by over head wires supplying 25000 AC volts to the trains. Some even travel between coaches on stairs with risk of coming under the train which are actually meant for technical works for workers . In recent years people travelling on roof tops have reduced due to awareness programs by railways. Travelling on roof top is a punishable offence under Indian Railways Act, 1989. Railways earn crores of rupees per year collected in form of fines.


People save time by avoiding use of Foot over Bridge (FOB) by crossing track but some unlucky one’s lose their life.

Mumbai trains are not only used as a medium of transport. From donation to business all things are done in Mumbai trains. While travelling in second class you would often find people asking for donation of cancer and poor people operations. While on way to your home you can buy various things in compartment from 4 chocolates for 1 re. to razor, torches, wallets, books for small children to Screwdriver set for rs.100. In ladies coach you would often see ladies selling bangles and various ladies accessories. Mumbai locals are livelihood for this sellers which earn some money in trains to have 2 meals a day for their family. A second class coach journey without beggars in non peak hours is very rare. You would often find blind people playing various instruments and singing songs while begging. you would also find annoying hijra people (eunuch) begging for money. All this people travel without ticket and are often caught by ticket checker (TC) as selling of goods is not allowed on platforms and in trains. Somehow they manage their life by finding ways to tackle TC. Stations of Mumbai trains are also home to some homeless people who do various activity like begging during day and sleep on platforms of Mumbai trains like under foot over bridges.


 Prof.  Sandeep who collects money in local train to educate poor students in his home town. He was arrested by railway police and granted bail only after paying fine.

Boy's plays cricket along the tracks as a suburban train passes by near the Bandra Railway Station in Mumbai

Slum children play Cricket along the tracks of Mumbai Suburban train.

Mumbai receives very high rainfall between June and September during which often the tracks of Mumbai trains get flooded due to which trains run late or even come to halt for a hour or so sometimes. On 26 July, 2005 around 1400 hrs Mumbai was struck by a cloud burst an received a rainfall of 944 mm in next 24 hours. Several trains were cancelled due to which many people spent that night in their offices, roads, buses and platform as transportation came to standstill. 52 Trains were damaged due to water logging. This was the worst floods in the history of Mumbai. Though cloud was detected by meteorological department, they couldn’t announce warnings to the public which could have saved many lives.


Tracks flooded due to heavy rainfall! Not a rare thing in Monsoon.


Indicators which help to know the level of flood water. 


Sion Railway station converted to Sion canal due to heavy rainfall .

Their have been two major Terrorist attacks on Mumbai Suburban Railway. On 11 July,2006 seven bombs went off in different places of Western Railway in a span of just 11 Minutes between 1824 hrs and 1835 hrs. This incident is referred as 7/11. All the bomb were placed in the first lass compartment of the trains. 209 people were killed and 714 were injured in bombings. Against all odds, trains started plying on the tracks of Western line by 2245 hrs. On 14 July, Lashkar-e-Qahhar, a terrorist organisation possibly linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), claimed responsibility for the bombings. In an e-mail to an Indian TV channel, the outfit says it organised the bombings using 16 people who are all “safe”. Lessons were hardly learnt. On 26th November, 2008 two armed terrorist open fired at civilians at Mumbai CST station killing 58 people an injuring 104 people at 2130 hrs. It is referred as 26/11. One of the terrorist was shot dead while other terrorist, Ajmal Kasab was caught 2 days later till which bombing were carried out in different parts of the city. This station too was cleared by night so that first local of next day was on time even though attack was continued in different part of the city. Even after this incidents terrorist have been not able to break the spirit of Mumbaikars.


 Police investigating 7/11 site.


Bullet mark on glass of Mumbai CST station on 26th Nov, 2008.

Bombay Railway History Group strives to document railway heritage of Mumbai. Even today various excavation work are done to find years old tracks and demolish old buildings having manual controls to change tracks in those days. Various parts of Station of Mumbai Railway System can give us look of heritage like Dadar(Western), Bandra, Byculla, etc. Various foot over bridges(FOB) are of British era joined by rivets. Chatrapatti Shivaji Maharaj Terminus [CSTM] is a valuable heritage to Mumbai Suburban Railway. CST early known as Victoria Terminus is the only railway station in the world to have been certified as World Heritage site by UNESCO. It was built in the year 1887 during British Raj to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria on location of Bori-bunder station. It serves for long distance Trains as well as Mumbai Suburban Trains with total of 18 Platforms. It was renamed in 1996 and is Second most photographed building in India after Taj Mahal, Agra.


Mumbai CST station viewed from a building terrace.


Inner dome of Mumbai CST station. Every weekdays a tour is conducted by CR which allows tourist to see and explore the CR Headquaters from inside with help of guides at cost of Rs.200 

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Source: Wikipedia

Though Mumbai trains been the oldest among other transit system in the world, it is not taken into comparison as it is not
considered as a metro network.


Mumbai Monorail Phase 1 has opened and Mumbai Metro One is soon going to open but Mumbai Locals remain one to transport most of the mumbaikars. With Mumbai Locals ferrying billions of people per year and serving as a source of income and livelihood to other millions of mumbaikars, is the only reason why it is reffered to as the lifeline of the city, without which the city would come to a halt.


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