MUMBAI: Multiple infrastructural projects planned for Mumbai will be of little help in reducing overcrowding on local trains in coming years, according to railways’ technical and engineering consultancy body RITES.
In an internal report, RITES has projected that 10 lakh passengers will be added to city’s suburban network by 2031. Introduction of Metro links will only share 1.5 per cent of the commuter load during morning peak hours of 8 am-11 am, it says.
Physical characteristics of Mumbai are to be blamed for rail travellers’ woes. Surrounded by sea from three sides, the suburbs have been constrained to spread northwards only and all transport facilities are concentrated within three narrow rail corridors – central, western and harbour, says the RITES report.
According to RITES, nearly 58 lakh trips were completed in Mumbai Metropolitan Region during morning peak period (8 am to 11 am) in 2011. Of these, 54 per cent belonged to suburban trains, which accounted for 31 lakh train trips.
Private vehicles accounted for 8 lakh trips, which is 14 per cent of the total trips. By 2031, MMR is projected to generate more than 85 lakh trips during the morning peak period, with a growth of nearly 48 per cent over 2011. “It can be observed that the percentage modal share for train will reduce though the total trips will increase significantly,” the report says.
Transport expert Rishi Agarwal told: “The RITES study and its observations should serve as an important input for all the authorities. The overcrowding in local trains cannot be solved by railways alone and needs multiple authorities to work together. Unless that happens, we will continue to see uncomfortable levels of overcrowding in local trains.”
Asked why the string of metro corridors, which will come up in next few years, will not make local trains less stifling, Agarwal said “There are many reasons including economical and geographical. Fares of local trains are very less compared to Metro. The lower middle class will always prefer to travel by local trains.”
However, that doesn’t mean that the Metro corridors will become worthless, said Agarwal. “Metro corridors will definitely ease the traffic congestion of the city, but it will be visible more on the road than in the local trains.”
DP Pandey, former member, Traffic of the Railway Board too said that Mumbai’s topography presents unique challenges. “Only new elevated corridors parallel to the present railway routes can help bring curb the overcrowding in local trains.”