The city’s rail authorities have decided to take a leaf out of its global counterpart in Tokyo and install automatic door-closing facilities in suburban trains.
Tokyo’s suburban trains are said to be as crowded as Mumbai’s during the morning and evening peak hours.
The railways have proposed procuring local trains with automatic door-closing arrangement for Mumbai under phase three of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP).
Top railway officials of the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) in Lucknow are working on the “tough task” of designing closed-door trains for Mumbai’s super-dense crowd after the then railway minister Lalu Prasad asked them to study the introduction of air-conditioned suburban trains in Mumbai under the Eleventh Five Year Plan by 2012.
The biggest challenge before the RDSO team is to design a coach that can accommodate rush hour traffic and would be able to close doors. It will be a challenge for the railways to design such a coach as there are six sets of doors on each side in Tokyo’s trains as compared to three on in Mumbai’s trains.
The Japanese rail authorities have employed white-gloved pushers called oshiya to shove passengers into the packed trains. The trains do not move till the doors are shut.
Central and Western Railways ferry about 70 lakh passengers a day as compared to more than 20 lakh on Tokyo’s system. While suburban trains in Mumbai are called Electric Multiple Units, those in Tokyo are called Suburban Multiple Units.
The third phase of the MUTP includes suburban railway works costing Rs 30,000 crore that have been identified under a new comprehensive transport strategy study done by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority and will be completed by March 2030.