In the past three years, the number of passengers on the Central Railway’s suburban section has increased by nearly 2 lakh people. And to accommodate these commuters, the railways have increased the number of train services by just 110.
According to experts, this is a clear indication that despite the railway’s claims, the numbers of services are not in proportion to the growing number of passengers, which results in overcrowding of trains. This, even after several projects have been undertaken to augment its passenger-carrying capacity.
On Thursday morning, two people were killed and another two were injured after they fell out of a packed CST–bound train. Earlier in April, three commuters had died and 10 were injured between Nahur and Bhandup station in a similar accident.
The carrying capacity of a 12-car train is 2,296. However, during peak hours, thrice the number of people travel in trains, claim transport activists.
“Passengers have to travel in inhuman conditions during peak hours. Commuters falling out of overcrowded trains is very common on the suburban section,” said Sameer Zaveri, a transport activist.
Experts said key railway projects such as Parel terminus, Kurla elevated platform, which is part of 5th and 6th line Kurla – CST project, and DC– AC conversion at CST-Thane need to be expedited.
“These projects will offer some respite to urban commuters,” said Ashok Datar, transport activist.
The Central Railway, however, claims that responsibility to augment passenger capacity was the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation’s (MRVC). “They provide us with rakes and we operate them,” said an official, adding, “The 5-6th line CST-Kurla project is stuck due to lack of funds. Once they are available, we will commence the work.”
Ravi Agarwal, chief public relations officer, MRVC, said, “The MRVC has not stopped funding any projects under MUTP II. It has already completed 40% work on the Thane-Diva 5th and 6th line. As far as the DC-AC conversion is concerned, the work will be completed by June 2013.”
Mukesh Nigam, divisional rail manager of Mumbai division, said they were running maximum services with the infrastructure available. “In one hour, only 16 services can be operated,” he said.
According to VA Malegaonkar, chief public relation officer, CR, the railways have converted all 9-car coaches to 12-car one on the mainline suburban section and 18 additional services have been announced, which will be applicable from October 15, 2012.