Taking note of the changing commute pattern, the Western Railway (WR) is planning several changes to make travel smoother, said Mukul Jain, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Mumbai Division, WR. Excerpts from an interview:
Q: Business districts have now shifted from Churchgate to Mahalaxmi-Lower Parel-Elphinstone and Bandra-Andheri-Malad belt. The north of the city has also witnessed growth in population. What can the railways do to handle the change?
A: We agree the pattern of ticket sales is changing. The timetable needs to change in accordance with passengers’ needs. It is not necessary for all trains to head to Churchgate. Some of the services can be terminated or can start at Dadar or Bandra. We need to upgrade the station by providing reversal facility on tracks, which will take at least one year, after it is sanctioned. Currently, we can terminate services at Andheri and Borivli, so we are operating more trains from there.
Q: Activists want more trains to start and end near these commercial hubs. Is this possible?
A: There is a need to develop Dadar and Bandra as termini. Besides, with a few changes, we could use the platform at Andheri meant for harbour line trains to start more Virar-bound trains. The work will cost us Rs3crore-6crore and can be completed in one year after getting the required permissions. It would also need a change in the signalling system. We can expect more trains to terminate and originate at intermediate stations, if these infrastructure works get through.
Q: Do you plan to make changes to the timetable?
A: We plan to introduce four services between Andheri and Virar during morning and evening peak hours. This is likely to come into effect from January 1, 2017. It will provide relief to 15,000-16,000 suburban passengers. Restructuring of timetable is a gradual process, which will be carried out with consultation of all stakeholders. It will take at least two-three years.
Q: What other steps are being taken to make the commute smoother?
A: We are planning to revive the fifth line between Andheri and Borivli, so we can run some additional services between Andheri and Virar. This may take one year, as we need to remove one railway structure which is coming in the way of the line. We have requested the department concerned to remove the structure on priority, so the line can be made operational.