he local trains of Mumbai are the heart of Mumbaikars. They carry thousands of people day in and day out. Most of the people spend their precious time in these locals. There are a number of problems involved but not much can be done because we have already utilised all our resources to the maximum level.Thus a convenient option would be to develop alternate routes and modes of transportation and get innovative techniques rather than trying to burden the already burdened local system. A better transportation system is one which caters to the needs of the consumers in time and with a minimum level of comfort.
The frequency of Mumbai local trains is as high as 3 minutes in the Western line and Central line during peak hours. The frequency cannot be increased anymore because that will increase the risk of incurring an accident. So, the trains go jam-packed. Nothing more in terms of frequency can be done. Still the local trains of Mumbai need a lot of makeover but the scope is not much wide. The number of coaches can be increased but most of the stations (platform length) need to be increased. The Harbour line did this very well and now has longer trains than other routes. Every year, more than 3,500 people die of railway accidents out of which 1/3rd accident takes place in Mumbai alone. Along with the railways (local), other dimensions need to be strengthened. GPS enabled train network system can be very helpful in tracking the trains in real time and head on collision between two trains (any train viz express, local) can be avoided.
Women should be given a priority. For example, the numbers of toilets in the stations of local trains are very few. Men can find a wall but for women, they have to walk a lot to find a toilet that too functional with basic requirements like water and cleanliness. To decongest the local trains, it is very important to develop alternate routes. Though lots of steps have been taken in this direction, but the pace of work is too slow like the monorail and metro.Development of routes which have more number of options for example with the introduction of Versova-Ghatkopar metro, the situation of roads has functional to normal level; also people have more options of travelling, thereby saving time. Also, there should be more inclination by common citizenry to use public transport. The rise in population is a very big problem. Hence, if alternate routes, habitation centers, working centers are not created in the fringe areas of Mumbai, any prevalent transportation system will be insufficient, dysfunctional and overcrowded. Dirty trains, tobacco stains on platforms cost WR Rs 3.5 crore every year. It’s a simple thing but if stopped, this can bring about an enormous difference in terms of cleanliness.
Upgrading Mumbai’s local is not an easy task. As you all know that locals are the lifeline of Mumbaikars. If the locals come to a halt, the whole of Mumbai will come to a standstill. Mumbai’s suburban system is very outdated especially the Harbour line. The ones which are good are Western and the Central line. For upgrading Mumbai’s suburban system, they will have to halt it and stopping Mumbai’s local train would mean removing a heart from a person’s body. But this does not seem to be right. The main reason behind the government spending hugely on Metro trains is because of better connectivity as they travel across various towns where local trains cannot reach.
Another reason for it is to reduce the carbon footprint in the environment and making Mumbai’s air cleaner to breathe. It’s also to encourage people to use public transport rather than using private vehicles. As one may know, perhaps Mumbai local train system comes under the Central Govt. And along with the main line, mail, express and freight have been running it for a long time. Many a times, the Indian Railway has requested the state government to help them acquire land to develop the main line services along with local trains. But a combination of lukewarm attitude or selfish agenda combined with state politics prevented most land acquisitions at a proper time and later it became prohibitively costly. Those who held land had no national interest. Now, the metro is built everywhere and state government is getting the feel of running a public transport efficiently and they get resistance from landholders and land cost being high they have to go mostly underground to build a metro. The difficulty in acquiring land at Aarey and Charkop etc is no different. Everything is done at a colossal cost and obviously passed directly or indirectly to the public by selling buildings by commercial firms and by paying a huge cost to state govt. All this could have been avoided if the earlier state government had helped IR in acquiring vacant land. The local trains are more spacious than the restricted space of metro trains. The bottom-line is a holistic approach is the need of the hour. The most important change that I would like to see is that thorough security checks at stations like the ones done for metros. CCTV cameras should be installed in trains and stations. Proper ventilation should be made available on trains. Frequency of trains should be increased especially during peak hours. Cleanliness and strong actions should be taken against the people who spit around in trains and on platforms too. The railways should come up with automatic closing of doors system so that those crowds who jam the entrance while alighting or boarding the train can be stopped. Increase the number of ladies specials. (Already there are enough but still few should be added.) Separate bogies for luggage compartments should be increased.This would avoid the confusion of commuters. So much so can be done and so much so is the need of an hour, Mumbai local has limited space and maximum challenges, but still the Western railway has come up with an announcement to increase stations in south Mumbai. Hoping that with the launch of metro stations and trains, Mumbaikars might get solace in commuting.
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