For those constantly complaining of delays and technical glitches on the central railway (CR), here’s a reason to rejoice – the average travel time of a fast train on the suburban Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to Kalyan route has reduced by 12-14 minutes over the past 16 years, according to railway data.
The data revealed while slow trains between CST and Panvel (harbour line of the CR), too, reached faster by 11-12 minutes, the travel time on the Churchgate-Virar fast route of the western railway (WR) came down by only 1-2 minutes.
A few Virar-bound fast trains complete the journey in 76-78 minutes, nine minutes less than the usual, said a railway official, requesting anonymity. According to WR officials, they can’t reduce the running time drastically owing to the increase in number of services, commuters and frequent station halts.
What has changed
Under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP), the railway authorities got several trains with advanced technology in the past few years and carried out infrastructure works such as yard remodelling and track upgradation, along with maintenance of the suburban section through mega blocks on Sundays.
Since 2000, the CR and WR have increased the number of daily suburban services, in addition to increasing their passenger-carrying capacity by 33% by converting all nine-car trains to 12-car. From 961 in 2000, the number of daily services on the WR has gone up to 1,319, with all trains being converted to 12 car (barring the two 15-car trains). The CR currently runs 1,660 services, from the 1,086 services in 2000. All its trains are 12-car, except the one 15-car train.
While the average speed of WR trains is 80kmph, some fast trains touch 100kmph in some sections. The CR officials claimed the average speed for suburban fast trains has come to 100kmph, after the introduction of Siemens trains in 2008.
“Earlier our average speed for fast trains used to be 80kmph, but the Siemens rake has increased it to 100kmph,” said AK Singh, public relations officer (PRO), CR.
The CR said the changes made to the time-table, reduction of time loss at signals, improved track maintenance and speed limit at crossovers (30kmph instead of the earlier 15kmph) helped bring down the travel time.
While the CR trains may have become faster, the number of commuters, too, has increased considerably since 2000. The CR catered to 33 lakh commuters daily in 2000, which has now risen to 40 lakh. In case of WR, the number of commuters has increased to 35 lakh from 28 lakh in 2000.
The CR commuters claimed there is no change in the scenario. “We can notice the difference, if any, only when the trains are operated on time. During peak hours, most trains are 10-15 minutes behind schedule. As a result, we always reach our destination 10-20 minutes late. How has the travel time reduced,” asked Lata Argade, president of Suburban Railway Pravasi Federation.
Narendra Patil, chief public relations officer, CR, said, “The number of trains operated on the main line is quite high. We also operate freight and long-distance trains on the main line which contribute to congestion. Besides, the three level-crossing at Kalwa, Diva and Thakurli affect our efficiency. Shutting them down will reduce the travel time by 5-10 minutes for each train.”
“The running time of our trains has reduced, but not massively compared to 2000. Our stations are located within a distance of 800m to 1.5km, which leads to frequent halts. We have a mixed timetable of slow and fast trains, consequently the speed of all trains vary,” said Ravindra Bhatkar, CPRO, WR.