If the Central Railway's ticket sales figures are any indication, distant suburbs outside Mumbai seem to be turning into hot residential property for those working in and around the city.
First class commuters from suburban stations like Panvel, Khandeshwar, Dombivli, and Mumbra are on the rise, Central Railway revenue records from April 2011 to December 2011 revealed. Many of the first class commuters are from the service sector.
Compared with 2010 figures, these stations have registered over 20 % increase in the revenue earned from first class fare. In 2010, Panvel registered a revenue growth of 30.06 %., while Thane’s collections rose by over 20 %. Mumbra and Dombivali also saw a growth of about 28 %.
“This growth indicates a shift of the service class from the heart of the city to far-off suburbs. Additionally, long-distance commuters don’t find cars affordable and the next option is first class train travel,” said Ashok Datar, transport analyst.
Central Railway public relations officer (PRO) AK Singh said, “It’s true that the service class is shifting to suburbs located far away. There is a growth of passengers noticed on the main, harbour and trans-harbour lines. Accordingly, the services have also been increased to meet the demand.”
Railway activists have demanded more northern-bound shuttle services to cater to the growing number of commuters on these sections.
Some transport analysts said the rise in the number of first class commuters was due to saturation in second class compartments.