Although the existing suburban rail network has reached its saturation point, adding new services or increasing the speed of trains will not be possible until the ongoing and proposed infrastructure projects are completed, said railway officials.
The suburban network, which carries around 75 lakh passengers daily, has not witnessed the much-needed expansion in the past 15 years. Consequently, the existing rail network has reached a point where services cannot be added to improve the efficiency of existing trains.
Some of the crucial infrastructure projects are the fifth and sixth lines on the Thane-Diva and Kurla-Parel route, extension of the Andheri-Goregaon line, sixth line from Borivli to Mumbai Central, fifth line on the Andheri-Borivli and Khar-Mahim stretch, closure of level-crossing at Thakurli, Diva and Kalwa, quadrupling of Virar-Dahanu, procurement of new trains and communication-based train control (CBTC) system.
“Additional infrastructure is required to boost the existing suburban operations. It is not possible to add new services on the existing lines, which are already congested. Once completed, the new lines will segregate the suburban and long-distance train traffic, which, in turn, will give us more space to run new trains,” said Ravindra Bhatkar, chief public relation officer, Western Railway.
The 2,900 trains on the suburban network, too, are unable to contain the increasing number of passengers, leading to crowding on trains.
“It is obvious the speed of a train will reduce if its length is increased. To counter this, we need better signalling system. The CBTC should be executed on priority on the suburban network,” said Gaurang Damani, member of the divisional railway users’ consultative committee, CR.