Central Railway (CR) trains just got a little more elbow room.
CR has now added 276 new coaches, after converting 86 9-coach trains to 12-coach, with 49 of those on Monday, including the addition of two trains. This increase will accommodate an additional 96,600 commuters and better distribute the 36-lakh odd commuters travelling every day.
While the population of train commuters has increased by 4.6 per cent over the last two years, the number of coaches augmented is 20 per cent.
On an average, nearly 350 commuters are packed into a CR coach every day – at peak hour (8.30 am-11 am, 5 pm-8 pm) that increases to 500 per coach per day. The total number of train services is now 1,414, up from 1,263 services in 2007-2008.
“The increase in services will reduce the density of people travelling in each coach,” said CR chief PRO, S Mudgerikar.
Also, the number of 12-coach services has increased from 228 in 2007-2008 to 522.
However, rail passenger associations feel these increases are superficial.
Deepak Gandhi, chairman, Mumbai Suburban Train Passenger Association, said: “There will be absolutely no benefit for passengers by converting to 12-coach trains. It will only push up costs by Rs 300 crore — because of the need to create longer platforms and realign signals. Instead, they could have simply added more 9-coach trains into the system.”
Differences in coach designs delay supply of new trains
The number of newly manufactured trains being transported to the city could have been much higher than it is presently.
On an average, the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai manufactures 4.5 trains in a month for Mumbai. This could have gone up to 6. The problem is there is a stark difference in the line-up of compartments of local trains that run on the Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR).
“The average number of trains manufactured and sent to Mumbai would increase if the designs were similar,” said B. Prasad, member of design department, ICF.
In the last 28 months, the Chennai-based rail body has sent 75 trains. That works out to an average of 3 trains every month. For instance, the location of first class compartments or the positioning of ladies compartments one the two lines is not identical, thus bringing down the manufacturing output of the local trains.
Both, CR and WR want the their respective rakes to be as per their own specifications. “The specifications for both railways are ready but the problem is that we have to change the pattern of manufacturing every now and then within a month,” said another ICF official.
The railways here feel the differences in design are dictated by commuting patterns and geography of the city. “For many years, commuters have been travelling in trains having specific design. If any change is proposed, their adaptability and comfort have to be kept in mind,” said Western Railway’s Chief Public Relations Officer (PRO) S. Gupta.