Starting Monday, till Wednesday, an outsourced agency will post people at the doors of the city’s suburban trains to count how many commuters typically cram into one coach on any given day.
How many of the counters are still standing by Thursday is anybody’s guess, given the stampede that enters and exits each coach, especially at the major stations.
Right now, Mumbai’s suburban rail network has 9-car trains, which are gradually being upgraded to 12-car units. This 3-day survey by the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) will decide if we need to up that to 15-car coaches.
An MRVC survey in May found the number of commuters per train had dropped from 4,700 to 4,100. “External agencies and commuters felt that finding was inaccurate. So we’ve hired an external agency to carry out a fresh survey. The new study will also tell us if the 53 new services added by WR and CR have helped reduce congestion,” said Prakash Vazalwar, MRVC’S chief operations manager.
MRVC has outsourced the survey to Hansa Research Group, whose employees will enter trains during morning and evening peak hours. On Monday morning, the survey began at Borivli and Virar on the Western line, Kalyan and Thane on the Central line and Panvel on the Harbour line.
On Day 1, the surveyors assessed 21 trains in the morning and the same number in the evening. Ten surveyors entered each train, splitting into six in the second-class compartment and four in first-class.
Each stood at the entrance on both sides and counted the number of commuters seated and those standing at the first destination point. At each station, they noted the number who entered and alighted. When Hindustan Times accompanied one of the groups in the 6.33 pm Borivli slow, we found the surveyors struggling at stations like Grant Road, Lower Parel and Dadar, even though the crowd was less than expected.
The ladies’ compartments have been ignored: their numbers are being considered approximately equal to or less than those travelling in the second-class men’s compartment. MRVC will get the final report after 10 days.