The Mumbai Suburban Railway (Marathi: मुंबई उपनगरीय रेल्वे) is a suburban rail system serving the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. It is operated by Indian Railways' two zonal Western Railways (WR ) and Central RailwaysCentral Railways (CR) . The system carries more than 7.24 million commuters daily. It has the highest passenger density of any urban railway system in the world. The trains plying on its routes are commonly referred to as local trains or simply as locals by Mumbaikars .
Spread over 465 km, the suburban railway operates on 1500 V DC / 25000 V AC power supply from overhead catenary lines. The suburban services are run by electric multiple units (EMUs). 191 rakes (train sets) of 9-car, 12-car & 15-car composition are utilised to run 2342 train services, carrying 6.94 million passengers per day.
Due to the geographical spread of the population and location of business areas , the rail network is the principal mode of mass transport in Mumbai . As Mumbai's population swelled, frequent overcrowding has become a serious issue, and numerous safety concerns have been raised over the years. A metro network and a monorail network are under construction in Mumbai to ease the travelling conditions on the suburban network.
The Mumbai Suburban Railway , as well as the Indian Railways, are an offshoot of the first railway to be built by the British in India, and is also the oldest railway system in Asia. The first train ran between Bori Bunder (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) and Thane, a distance of 34 km, on 16 April 1853 at 3:35PM. The 14-coach train took 57 minutes to complete the 32km journey, with a halt at Sion for taking in water. Since 1991, it has faced rapid expansion. The Bombay Railway History Group has been striving to document railway heritage along this line.
Two zonal railways, the Western Railway (WR) and the Central Railway (CR), operate the Mumbai Suburban Railway system . At present, the fast corridors on Central Railway as well as Western Railway are shared for long distance and freight trains. The Western Railway operates the Western Line and the Central Railway operates the Central Line , Harbour Line , Trans-Harbour Line as well as the Vasai Road-Diva-Panvel line .
Main article : Western Line
Two corridors (one local and the other through) on Western Railway run northwards from Churchgate parallel to the west coast up to Dahanu Road (120 km). These trackss are popularly referred to as 'Western Line ' by the locals mainly because it is operated and owned by the Western Railways.
Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) ply between Churchgate and Virar (64 km), while Mainline Electrical Multiple Units (MEMUs) service the section beyond Virar till Dahanu Road (60 km). MEMUs also operate between Dahanu Road and Panvel via a branch line from Vasai Road. There are EMU carsheds at Mumbai Central and Kandivali. An EMU car shed is under construction between Nala Sopara and Virar which will be the largest car shed in Asia. A repair shop for EMUs is situated at Mahalaxmi.
Widely used Western Railway's EMU fleet consists of EMUs running on AC (25 kV) power. EMUs are 9 car, 12 car or 15 car formations and are differentiated as slow and fast locals. Slow trains halt at all stations, while fast ones halt at important stations only and are preferable over longer distances.
Main article: Central Line
The Central Line in Mumbai consists of 3 major corridors, which bifurcate as they run into suburban satellite towns. Two corridors (one local and other through) on Central Railway run from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to Kalyan (54 km), from where it bifurcates into two lines — one running up to Kasara (67 km) in the north-east and the other running up to Khopoli (61 km) in the south-east. These two corridors constitute the 'Main' Line. The Central main line shares two stations with the Western line at Parel and Dadar. They consist of a fleet of DC as well as dual-powered EMUs. The major car sheds on this line are at Kurla and Kalwa. There are fast and slow locals here for suburban service. Slow locals halt at every station, while fast locals halts vary between Byculla, Dadar, Kurla, Ghatkopar, Vikhroli, Bhandup, Mulund, Thane, Dombivali and Kalyan. All services plying beyond Kalyan run slow.
The Central Line also includes a line connecting Vasai Road, Diva and Panvel. There is also a line from Nerul/CBD Belapur to Uran currently under construction. It is expected to be operational in 2015.
Main article: Harbour Line
The Harbour line is part of the Central Railway, and runs a train corridor from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to Andheri, Thane and Panvel. All harbour line services operate as slow services. The
line operates from two separate platforms at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), and the tracks cross over the main line at Sandhurst Road, to head towards stations along Mumbai's eastern dock area. A branch line from Wadala Road joins the Western Railway Line at Mahim and continues towards Andheri. The harbour line shares a common station at Kurla with the main line, where it turns east
towards Navi Mumbai. The Harbour line further bifurcates at Vashi into two lines — one rejoins the main lines at Thane, while the other continues to Panvel. The shed of these trains is in Sanpada. A large section of the harbour line is elevated.
Main Article : Trans-Harbour Line
The Trans-Harbour Line connects Navi Mumbai to Thane. It runs from Thane to Vashi and Nerul. According to V Malgaonkar, Chief PRO of the Central Railway, "The objective of the trans harbour line project was to reduce the load at Kurla. The line caters to the chemical industrial belt in Navi Mumbai that goes up to Thane." Services from Panvel and Nerul have also reduced the load on Vashi. The line was started in 1993 to run goods trains between Turbhe and Kalwa. It was upgraded in 2004 to transport commuters till Thane. Services from Panvel to Thane and Nerul to Thane were started in 2010. There are currently 208 services operating on the trans-harbour line.
Future Expansion 
Navi Mumbai is expected to get approximately 180 km of railway tracks in the near future. Surveys by the MMRDA showed that passenger density in the satellite city was growing at a faster rate than both Western Railway and Central Railway’s main line. Navi Mumbai is expected to have a population of 48 lakh by 2021 and about 80% of the population will travel by train. The State Government, Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation and World Bank officials estimate that railway projects in Navi Mumbai and neighbouring areas of Raigad district will cost around 14,000-crore. Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project-II plans to extend the Harbour Line up to Goregaon. The work is expected to be completed by March 2014. Under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project-III, the Harbour Line will be further extended up to Borivali.
Anatomy of a Mumbai Local Train
The suburban trains consists of 9, 12 and 15 coaches. To alleviate the problems of overcrowding, the 9 coach trains are being phased out and replaced with 12 coaches. 15 coach trains were introduced on November 21, 2009. However, these are few in number. Each train contains special coaches to cater to different needs. These coaches are commonly referred to as 'Compartments'.
There are basically two classes of travel: first class and second class. The first class fare is approximately 10 times more expensive than second class, and therefore tends to be less crowded. First class compartments also have slightly better seats than second class. Broadly the train contains the general compartments, ladies compartments, general first class and ladies first class. Men are not allowed to travel in the ladies compartment except between 11:15pm – 6:30am.
- The General First Class compartment: Again commonly known as 'Gent's first class' or simply 'first class', since majority population is men. Women and children can also board this compartment. The coach is designated by red and yellow slant stripes. The location of the same is designated by coloring the platform walls with similar stripes.
- The Ladies compartment: Commonly known as 'Ladies second class'. This compartment is reserved solely for females, however male children up to the age of 13 can travel in this compartment. Men are not allowed to travel, and may face a penalty. Some of the coaches of ladies compartments are open to general public between 11:15pm – 6:30am. These are indicated by a note near the doors of the compartments. The coach is designated by green and yellow slant stripes. The location of the same is designated by coloring the platform walls with similar stripes.
- The Ladies First Class compartment: Commonly known as 'Ladies first class'. This compartment is reserved solely for females, however male children up to the age of 13 can travel in this compartment. Men are not allowed to travel, and may face a penalty. Some of the coaches of ladies compartments are open to general public between 11:15pm – 6:30am. These are indicated by a note near the doors of the compartments. The coach is designated by red and yellow slant stripes. The location of the same is designated by coloring the platform walls with similar stripes. This compartment is adjacent to the ladies compartment on the western line.
- For Handicap and Cancer Patients: For the physically challenged and cancer patients, separate coaches are reserved in each train. On a platform, one can locate these by signs or by following a 'Beep- Beep- Beep' sound indicator for the visually impaired. These coaches are open to all the genders. One needs a valid certificate of disability(in case it is not apparent) to board the compartment. Failure to do so may result in a penalty.
- For Senior Citizens: A special coach is reserved for passengers above the age of 60. These coaches are open to all the genders.
- Luggage Compartment: Heavy goods and luggage can be transported via the suburban trains using the compartments specially designed and reserved for this purpose. The luggage compartment at the south-end of Western Line services is reserved for dabbawalas between 10am and noon on all Virar-Churchgate services and between 2pm-4:30pm on all Churchgate-Virar services. On the Central Line, the compartment is reserved for dabbawalas 10am-12.30pm on all Kalyan-CST services and from 2pm-4.30pm on all CST-Kalyan services.
Stations usually lack clear signage indicating the positions of compartments. However, seasoned commuters usually know them by heart.
Automatic Ticket Vending Machine Tickets for the suburban trains can be purchased at every train station. Travelling without a valid ticket is an offence and if caught can result into penalty. The penalty is steeper for passengers travelling in first class without a valid ticket.
Tickets can be bought for single journey (one way) or a return journey. A return ticket is valid till the next day on weekdays and till Monday if purchased on a Friday. The ticket counters usually have long queues.
Tourists can avail the option of 'Tourist ticket'. Under the tourist ticket scheme, passengers can travel unlimited times during its validity between any stations on all lines Mumbai Suburban Railway. Tickets are available for first and second class. Effective 1 August 2012, the fares for first class tickets are 210 (US$3.82) (1 day), 365 (US$6.64) (3 days) and 430 (US$7.83) (5 days). These tickets are issued maximum 3 days in advance, excluding the first day of validity. No refund is admissible on unused/partially used tourist tickets. But tourist tickets booked in advance can be cancelled before the day of validity on which charges of Rs 10 for second class and Rs 20 for first class per passenger will be deducted.
CVMs and ATVMs
To save time, a Coupon Booklet can be purchased and the coupons can be punched for the designated fare at the Coupon Validating Machines(CVMs) at every station. The ticket fares matrix is pasted above the CVM. As of October 2012, there are approximately 575 CVMs on Mumbai Suburban Railway stations. The Central Railway network has 350 and the Western Line has 225.
There are also Smart Cards available that can be topped up (recharged with some amount) and one can use it to print tickets for themselves from an Automatic Ticket Vending Machine (ATVMs). ASeason Ticket can be purchased if one is commuting regularly. One can choose the validity of these tickets from 1 month, 3 months to a year. Season Tickets are the most cost effective and time efficient option for regular commuters.
A bulk of the current fleet of both the Western and Central railways features old rakes which are capable of a maximum speed of 85 km/h in regular service. Most of these rakes are built by Jessop (Kolkata) and ICF (Perambur). The recently introduced AC/DC rakes (more modern motors in the existing carriage designs) are capable of 100 km/h under low traffic conditions. The actual average speed of the rakes on the slow lines is about 35 km/h, while rakes on fast lines average about 45–50 km/h on a typical run.
On November 12, 2007, 1st rake of 129 new 12-coach rakes with upgraded facilities was inducted into the fleet of the Western Railways under the MUTP project. The coaches are built of stainless steel, and have non-cushioned seats, emergency fluorescent lights, bigger windows with polycarbonate lookout glass, better suspension systems and a novel roof mounted forced ventilation system, station indicators in all coaches, GPS based Public information system in all coaches.The new rakes are much more cool and airy, than the old EMU. The engine of the new rakes also makes less amount of noise than the older ones. This is a great advantage for the people living near the railway,as the old rakes made much more noise. Since,2010 the front of the EMUs are painted yellow, so that the maintenance workers on the tracks can see the train from far distances and act accordingly. These rakes have been procured under the project at a total cost of Rs 1,900 crore (Rs 19 billion) (USD 431.0 million).
On 25 July 2012, Central Railway announced it was introducing trains with cushion seats in second class compartments. Cushion seats have been fixed on all the white and purple coloured EMU rakes by an in-house team of Matunga workshop. The difference between first and second class seats is that they have four-inch density and two-inch density respectively.
The cushion has been made of rubberized coir material which is fire retardant. The seat cover is made of artificial leather similar to ones used in the first class compartment. Coir is tough, durable and can spring back to shape even after constant use. Coir is cheaper compared to rubber foam or polyurethane material, which is being used for making cushion seats in first class compartments.
A nine-car train has a seating capacity of 876 and 1,752 standees — a total of 2,628. A 12-car train can seat 1,168 and accommodate 2,336 standees that is a total of 3,504 passengers and a 33% rise in carrying capacity compared to a nine-car train.
Air Conditioned Rakes
In 2007, the railways had planned to run air conditioned trains as a pilot between Churchgate and Borivli on a public-private partnership, but scrapped it following opposition. In the 2008 rail budget, the then railway minister Lalu Prasad had stated the possibility of introducing AC suburban trains for the city in the 11th Five Year plan by 2012. In the 2012 Rail Budget, railway minister Dinesh Trivedi, stated that "work had begun in right earnest" to provide passengers with AC local trains. He estimated a capital cost of 9 crore for a 12-coach AC local train. Though the cost of actually designing and running the AC EMU will be more than 27 crore (the cost of a regular rake)Trivedi announced a token contribution of 1 lakh in his budget.
The Research Design and Standards Organization (RDSO) in Lucknow is currently working on the design for AC trains for Mumbai. The Western Railway had also internally prepared one such coach at its Mahalaxmi workshop and taken trials a few years ago. The plan for Mumbai had been earlier rejected as air-conditioned trains required closed doors, which was not possible in the dense crush load that the city’s trains ferry. One of the ideas proposed comprised air-curtains to separate the cold air from the warm, but that too did not click. An air-curtain is a ventilation device used for separating two spaces from each other, a downward-facing fan with a powerful jet to help keep outside air out. As local trains could not be fitted with air-conditioners, it was then decided to install forced ventilation blowers in trains. The “forced ventilation’’ technique was to aid in decrease of carbon dioxide levels in packed trains. In October 2012, Chief Electrical Engineer of WR Sunil Goyal, said, "Designs prepared by the RDSO have been sent to Integral Coach Factory (ICF) and the process of manufacturing is currently on. As soon we receive the train, it will be ready to run post trials". The Railway Board had placed an order for an air conditioned 12 coach rake with ICF in Chennai. On 23 January 2012, the Railway Board approved an air conditioned rake for Central Railway, but later decided to allot the rake to Western Railway. The board felt that it would be easier to operate the air conditioned rake on the Western Line because it is a comparatively straight line from and is completely powered by alternating current. The air conditioned rake will have longitudinal seating similar to metro trains.
WR plans to run the rake on the slow corridor between Churchgate and Borivali by April 2013. Currently there are no AC rakes in the Mumbai Suburban Railway. However, all coaches are fitted with fans.