Mumbai Suburban Railway

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Mumbai Suburban Railway
मुंबई उपनगरीय रेल्वे
Indian Railways Suburban Railway Logo.svg
Mumbai suburban rail map.png
Locale Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Maharashtra, India
Transit type Suburban Rail
Number of lines 6
Number of stations
Daily ridership 7.585 million[1]
Annual ridership 2.64 billion

Churchgate (WR)

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CR)

Western Railway

Central Railway l bine
Began operation 16 April 1853
Train length 9/12/15 coaches
System length 427.5 kilometres (265.6 mi)
Track gauge 1,676 mm (5 ft 6 in)
Electrification 1500 V DC/25,000 V AC Overhead catenary
Average speed 50 km/h (31 mph)
Top speed 100 km/h (62 mph)

The Mumbai Suburban Railway (Marathi: मुंबई उपनगरीय रेल्वे) consists of rapid transit on exclusive inner suburban railway lines augmented by commuter rail on main lines serving outlying suburbs to serve the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Spread over 465 kilometres (289 mi), the suburban railway operates 2,342 train services and carries more than 7.5 million commuters daily. By annual ridership (2.64 billion), the Mumbai Suburban Railway is the busiest rapid transit system in the world.[2] It has some of the most severe overcrowding in the world. Trains run from 4 AM until 1 AM.


The Mumbai Suburban Railway is an offshoot of the first railway to be built by the British in India, and is also the oldest railway system in Asia. The first train ran between Bori Bunder (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) and Thane, a distance of 34 km, on 16 April 1853 at 3:35 pm. The 14-coach train took 57 minutes to complete the 32 km journey, with a halt at Sion to refill the train's water tanks.[3] Since 1991, it has faced rapid expansion. The Bombay Railway History Group[4] has been striving to document railway heritage along this line.


The Mumbai Suburban Railway system is operated by Indian Railways' two zonal divisions Western Railways (WR) and Central Railways (CR). The fast commuter rail corridors on Central Railway as well as Western Railway are shared with long distance and freight trains, while inner suburban services operate on exclusive parallel rapid transit tracks. WR operates the Western Line and CR operates the Central Line, Harbour Line, Trans-Harbour Line as well as the Vasai Road-Diva-Panvel line. An integrated map including all the belowmentioned lines with new Monorail and Metrorail can be found here.

Western Line[edit]

The Western Line follows the Western Railway northwards from Churchgate parallel to the west coast. Local services by electric multiple units (EMUs) ply between Churchgate and Dahanu Road (120 km) on exclusive parallel tracks up to Virar (60 km) while Mainline Electrical Multiple Units (MEMUs) service the section beyond Virar to Dahanu Road (60 km). On 16 April 2013 EMU has extended up to Dahanu Road. MEMUs also operate between Dahanu Road and Panvel via a branch line from Bhiwandi road-Vasai Road. There are EMU carsheds at Mumbai Central and Kandivali. An EMU car shed is under construction between Nala Sopara and Virar which will be the largest car shed in Asia. A repair shop for EMUs is situated at Mahalaxmi.

Western Railway's EMU fleet consists of EMUs completely powered by alternating current (25 kV) power. EMUs are 12 car or 15 car formations and are differentiated as slow and fast locals. Slow trains halt at all stations, while fast ones halt at important stations only and are preferable over longer distances. The western railway is the best among the three lines i.e.;central and harbour because of more number of trains and also consideringly less crowd in trains.

Central Line[edit]

The Central Line in Mumbai consists of 3 major corridors, which bifurcate as they run into suburban satellite towns. Two corridors (one local and other through) follow the Central Railway run from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to Kalyan (54 km), from where it bifurcates into two lines – one to Kasara (67 km) in the north-east and the other to Khopoli (61 km) in the south-east. These two corridors constitute the 'main' Central Line. There is also an 18-km corridor between Kurla and Thane stations for use of outstation and cargo trains. The corridor is being extended further from Thane to Kalyan now as a part of the main line. The Central Line has two interchange stations with the Western Line at Parel and Dadar. Rolling stock consists of a fleet of DC as well as dual-powered EMUs. The major car sheds on this line are at Kurla and Kalwa. There are fast and slow locals here for suburban service. Slow locals halt at every station, while fast locals halts vary between Byculla, Dadar, Kurla, Ghatkopar, Vikhroli, Bhandup, Mulund, Thane, Dombivali and Kalyan. All services plying beyond Kalyan run as slow service (halting at every station).

The Central Line also includes a line connecting Vasai Road-Bhiwandi Road-Diva and Panvel. A line from Nerul/CBD Belapur to Uran is currently under construction and is expected to be operational in 2015.

Harbour Line[edit]

The Harbour Line is part of the Central Railway, and runs from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to Andheri and Panvel. All Harbour Line services operate as slow services. The line operates from two separate platforms at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), and the tracks cross over the main line at Sandhurst Road, to head towards stations along Mumbai's eastern dock area. A branch line from Wadala Road joins the Western Line at Mahim and continues towards Andheri. The Harbour Line has an interchange station with the main line at Kurla, where it turns east towards Navi Mumbai. The Harbour Line further bifurcates at Vashi into two lines – one rejoins the main lines at Thane, while the other continues to Panvel. The shed for these trains is in Sanpada. A large section of the Harbour Line is elevated.

Trans-Harbour Line[edit]

The Trans-Harbour Line connects Navi Mumbai to Thane. It runs from Thane to Vashi and Nerul. According to V Malgaonkar, Chief PRO of the Central Railway, "The objective of the Trans-Harbour Line project was to reduce the load at Kurla. The line caters to the chemical industrial belt in Navi Mumbai that goes up to Thane." Services from Panvel and Nerul have also reduced the load on Vashi. The line was started in 1993 to run goods trains between Turbhe and Kalwa. It was upgraded in 2004 to transport commuters to Thane. Services from Panvel to Thane and Nerul to Thane were started in 2010. There are currently 208 services operating on the line.[5]


Mumbai Suburban Railway services have various such designations in wide use by Mumbaikars as well as official use:

  • slow local stops at every station
  • fast local runs express (skipping stops) until a certain station, and from that station onward runs like a local
  • fast, superfast, double-fast run express for various lengths of route

There are also women-only cars (termed ladies),[6] and since 1992, Ladies Special trains with the entire reserved for women passengers. A semi ladies special is a train with a few (e.g., 3) coaches reserved for women. These designations can be combined with fast', slow, etc., so you have terms such as Slow Ladies Special.

On-board accommodation[edit]

The interior of MRVC Siemens Rakes
MRVC Siemens Rakes replaced the ageing fleet of suburban trains

The suburban fleet consists of 9, 12 and 15-coach rakes. There are two classes of travel, including first class. The first class fare is approximately 12 times more expensive than second class, and therefore tends to be less crowded. First class compartments also have slightly better seats than second class. Because women can travel separately, there are four types of accommodation, termed 'compartments':

  • general compartment also called gent's second class or simply second class as the majority of passengers in these compartments are men. The compartment is open to women and children as well.
  • general first class Again commonly known as gent's first class or simply first class, since majority population is men. Women and children can also board this compartment. The coach is designated by red and yellow slant stripes. The location of the same is designated by coloring the platform walls with similar stripes.
  • ladies' compartment commonly known as ladies' second class. This compartment is reserved solely for females, however male children up to the age of 13 can travel in this compartment. Men are not allowed to travel, and may face a penalty. Some of the coaches of ladies compartments are open to general public between 11:15pm – 6:30am. These are indicated by a note near the doors of the compartments. The coach is designated by green and yellow slant stripes. The location of the same is designated by coloring the platform walls with similar stripes.
  • ladies first class is reserved solely for females, however male children up to the age of 13 can travel in this compartment. Men are not allowed to travel, and may face a penalty. Some of the coaches of ladies compartments are open to general public between 11:15pm – 6:30am. These are indicated by a note near the doors of the compartments. The coach is designated by red and yellow slant stripes. The location of the same is designated by coloring the platform walls with similar stripes. This compartment is often adjacent to the ladies compartment.
  • handicap and cancer patients' compartment for people with disabilities or cancer. On a platform, one can locate these by signs or by following a 'Beep-Beep-Beep' sound indicator for the visually impaired. These coaches are open to all the genders. One needs a valid certificate of disability to board the compartment. Failure to do so may result in a penalty.
  • senior citizens special coach is reserved for passengers above the age of 60. These coaches are open to all the genders.
  • luggage compartment - heavy goods and luggage can be transported using the compartments specially designed and reserved for this purpose. The luggage compartment at the south-end of Western Line services is reserved for dabbawalas between 10 am and noon on all Virar-Churchgate services and between 2 pm – 4:30 pm on all Churchgate-Virar services. On the Central Line, the compartment is reserved for dabbawalas 10 am – 12.30 pm on all Kalyan-CST services and from 2 pm – 4.30 pm on all CST-Kalyan services.[7]

Stations usually lack clear signage indicating the positions of compartments. However, seasoned commuters usually know them by heart.


Automatic Ticket Vending Machine

The Mumbai Suburban railway uses the Proof-of-Payment fare collection system.

Tickets for the suburban trains can be purchased at every train station. Travelling without a valid ticket is an offence and if caught can result into penalty. The penalty is steeper for passengers travelling in first class without a valid ticket.

Tickets can be bought for single journey (one way) or a return journey. A return ticket is valid till the next day on weekdays and till Monday if purchased on a Friday. The ticket counters usually have long queues.

Tourists can avail the option of 'Tourist ticket'. Under the tourist ticket scheme, passengers can travel unlimited times during its validity between any stations on all lines Mumbai Suburban Railway. Tickets are available for first and second class. Effective 1 August 2012, the fares for first class tickets are INR270 (US$4.40) (1-day), INR365 (US$6.00) (3 days) and INR430 (US$7.10) (5 days). These tickets are issued maximum 3 days in advance, excluding the first day of validity. No refund is admissible on unused/partially used tourist tickets. But tourist tickets booked in advance can be cancelled before the day of validity on which charges of INR 10 for second class and INR 20 for first class per passenger will be deducted.

Platform Tickets are required to be purchased by those members of the public not boarding trains, but who wish to access the platforms at certain long distance termini, perhaps for the purpose of receiving or seeing off a passenger. These generally cost INR5 (8.2¢ US), but this price may vary by location. Not all stations issue platform tickets. In their absence, access to the platform is free. A person can be penalized for non-possession of this ticket.[8]

CVMs and ATVMs

To save time, a Coupon Booklet can be purchased and the coupons can be punched for the designated fare at the Coupon Validating Machines(CVMs) at every station. The ticket fares matrix is pasted above the CVM. As of October 2012, there are approximately 575 CVMs on Mumbai Suburban Railway stations. The Central Railway network has 350 and the Western Line has 225.[9]

There are also Smart Cards available that can be topped up (recharged with some amount) and one can use it to print tickets for themselves from an Automatic Ticket Vending Machine (ATVMs). A Season Ticket can be purchased if one is commuting regularly. One can choose the validity of these tickets from 1-month, 3 months to a year. Season Tickets are the most cost effective and time efficient option for regular commuters.

Rolling stock[edit]

White and purple coloured MRVC Siemens rakes on the Western Line
A prototype Bombardier rake, each coach has a capacity of 400 passengers, including standees.

The suburban services are run by electric multiple units (EMUs) in 191 rakes (train sets) of 9-car, 12-car and 15-car composition. To alleviate the problems of overcrowding, the 9 coach trains are being phased out and replaced with 12-coach trains. 15-coach trains were introduced on 21 November 2009. However, these are few in number.

The bulk of the current fleet of both the Western and Central railways features old rakes built by Jessop (Kolkata), ICF (Perambur) which are capable of a maximum speed of 85 km/h and MRVC Siemens Rakes which are capable of and 100 km/h under light traffic conditions. The actual average speed of the rakes on the slow lines is about 35 km/h, while rakes on fast lines average about 45–50 km/h on a typical run.

On 12 November 2007, the first of 129 new 12-coach rakes with upgraded facilities was inducted into the fleet of the Western Railways under the MUTP project. The coaches are built of stainless steel, and have non-cushioned seats, emergency fluorescent lights, bigger windows with polycarbonate panes, better suspension systems, roof mounted forced ventilation to reduce carbon dioxide levels in packed trains,[10] and GPS based passenger information systems in all coaches. The new rakes are much more cool and airy than the old EMUs. The motors of the new rakes also make less noise than the older ones. Since 2010 the front of the EMUs are painted yellow, so that the maintenance workers on the tracks can see the train easily. These rakes have been procured under the project at a total cost of INR 19 billion (USD 431.0 million). Five Siemens rakes which had to be delivered as part of the first phase will be sent to the city starting early January 2014

New Bombardier rakes being built at the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai were expected to start coming into Mumbai by April 2014 however a delay of two years is anticipated due to a demand of automatic sliding door on the trains.

Nine-car trains have a capacity of 2,628 (876 seated and 1,752 standing). Twelve-car trains have a capacity of 3,504 (1,168 seated and 2,336 standing).[11]

In fall 2013, brand new 12-car rakes were introduced on the railway.[12]

Air Conditioned Rakes[edit]

Currently there are no AC rakes in the Mumbai Suburban Railway. However, all coaches are fitted with fans and some with blowers.

Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC)[edit]

To enable the Mumbai Suburban Railway to meet the demands of the ever-growing passenger traffic, the federal Government of India's Ministry of Railways and the state Government of Maharashtra have jointly envisioned the constitution of a separate corporate entity to operate the system.

The Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation Ltd (MRVC), a public sector unit of the Government of India under the Ministry of Railways, was incorporated under the (Indian) Companies Act, 1956 on 12 July 1999, with an equity capital of INR250 million (US$4.1 million) to implement the rail component of an integrated rail-cum-road urban transport project, called Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP). The cost of the rail component of the project is to be shared equally by Ministry of Railways and Government of Maharashtra.


All routes are electrified partly on 1500 V DC and partly 25000 V AC power supply from overhead lines.

The Indian Railways plans to build a 700 MW gas-based plant in Thakurli to generate electricity to run the Mumbai trains.[13]

Safety Issues[edit]


Due to its extensive reach across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, and its intensive use by the local urban population, the Mumbai Suburban Railway suffers from some of the most severe overcrowding in the world.[14] Over 4,500 passengers are packed into a 9-car rake during peak hours, as against the rated carrying capacity of 1,700.[14] This has resulted in what is known as Super-Dense Crush Load of 14 to 16 standing passengers per square metre of floor space. Trains on the suburban line are on average more than 4 minutes apart, contributing to the problem of overcrowding. The impending introduction of new higher speed rakes may help address the issue.


The local Lonely Planet guide advises tourists not to travel between 6am and 9am on weekdays due to the excessive crowding.[6]


On an average, about 600 people die annually on the Mumbai Suburban Rail network: over the past 10 years (2002–2012), more than 36,152 lives have been lost on tracks and 36,688 people have been injured.[15] A record 17 people died every weekday on the city's suburban railway network in 2008.[16] One of the reason for accidents and deaths is overcrowding (see above). Another cause of death is passengers crossing the tracks on foot to avoid footbridges. Some passengers die when they sit on train roofs to avoid the crowds and are electrocuted by the overhead electric wires, or fall while hanging from doors and window bars. However, the fatality rates have declined recently. To reduce the risk of such fatalities, automatic doors will be installed on all rakes by 2016 along with longer platforms and more frequent trains.

Central Railways in association with a behaviour architecture firm deployed neuroscience based interventions at the Wadala station, reducing fatalities by about 75%.[17] Times of India carried a news item regarding the success of this experiment[18]

Western Railway has pledged that its trains will stop running if "even a single person" is seen travelling on the roof.[19]

In mid-2011 a viral video depicted a youth performing stunts while dangling from the compartment of a Harbour Line train.[20] Following this, a boy was killed while imitating the actions performed in the video.[21]

The Western and Central Railways have been using the Auxiliary Warning System (AWS), a type of Train Protection & Warning System (TPWS), since 1996.[22]

Terrorist attacks[edit]

The Mumbai Suburban Railway has suffered 8 blasts and around 368 people are believed to have died as a result.

Future Expansion[edit]

Due to the geographical spread of the population and location of business areas, the rail network is the principal mode of mass transport in Mumbai. As Mumbai's population has swelled, frequent overcrowding has become a serious issue. A metro system and a monorail system are under construction in Mumbai to ease the travelling conditions on the suburban railway, in addition to plans to expand the railway itself.

Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project-II is extending the Harbour Line up to Goregaon. The work is expected to be completed in 2016.

A Belapur/Nerul-Uran line is also under construction.

In popular culture[edit]


The Mumbai Suburban Railway has regularly been used for film shoots. Film writer Sanjay Chauhan says, "A train is not only the lifeline of Mumbai, but love, heartbreak, separation and loneliness have been symbolized through trains since pre-independence days. A story based in Mumbai is incomplete without a train sequence, as in Baton Baton Mein and Saathiya."

In 2010, Western Railway earned INR8.35 lakh from film and television shoots. That figure went up to INR1.42 crore in 2012-13. WR charges INR1.10 lakh for a day's shoot without any rolling stock, while one with special rolling stock is about INR4.12 lakh. According to film location director, Arun Mathias, "A security deposit of INR5 lakh has to be paid, besides an insurance of INR48,000 taken for a week's shoot. An engine with coaches on the platform and a moving train may go up to INR4.25 lakh (for 8 hours). But just a platform shoot or a sequence in a railway yard can be done for INR2 lakh."[23]

Some movies that have used the Mumbai Suburban Railway for filming are: Agneepath, Dabangg, Gangs of Wasseypur, Life In a Metro, Ghanchakkar, Kai Po Che, Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Again, Rajjo, Ra.One and Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani.

[24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "When can we travel like humans? - Mumbai - DNA". 2013-09-20. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Satardekar, Anvaya (2012-10-17). "Central Railway puts 15-car locals on track". DNA India. Retrieved 2013-07-16. 
  4. ^ and Bombay Railway History Group
  5. ^ "Trans harbour line eases rush at Kurla and Vashi". Hindustan Times. 2011-06-11. Retrieved 2013-07-16. 
  6. ^ a b Lonely Planet: Goa & Mumbai 6 ed, 2012, published by Lonely Planet, p68
  7. ^ "Dabbawalas to get reserved compartment on Western rly trains". Hindustan Times. 2012-09-14. Retrieved 2013-07-16. 
  8. ^ "ADMISSION TO PLATFORMS AND CARRIAGE OF PASSENGERS". Indian Railways. 2012-10-03. Retrieved 2014-01-09. 
  9. ^ "Coupons with bar codes for train travel". Hindustan Times. 2012-10-03. Retrieved 2013-07-16. 
  10. ^ Aklekar, Rajendra (2011-12-29). "Fresh blueprint for AC locals on anvil". DNA India. Retrieved 2013-07-16. 
  11. ^ Aklekar, Rajendra (2011-12-07). "Railway think tank rules out Metro-like seats in locals". DNA India. Retrieved 2013-07-16. 
  12. ^ Economic Times "Mumbai set to get new local trains"
  13. ^ Aklekar, Rajendra (2012-03-26). "Power plant for Mumbai railways gets a fillip". DNA India. Retrieved 2013-07-16. 
  14. ^ a b "Loan to relieve world's most overcrowded trains". Railway Gazette. Retrieved 2010-07-07. 
  15. ^ "Mumbai's lifeline has claimed 36,000 lives in 10 years". The Times of India. 20 April 2012. 
  16. ^ Rhys Blakely (18 February 2010). "India's rail authorities crack down on rooftop travel to stop deaths". London: The Times. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  17. ^ Subramanian, Samanth (8 May 2011). "Train!". The Boston Globe. 
  18. ^ "Rs 50 cr to curb deaths on tracks". The Times of India. 2010-07-24. Retrieved 2013-07-16. 
  19. ^ 'Passengers banned from Indian train roofs' on The Australian website, viewed 2013-07-27
  20. ^ "Xtreme Train Stunt - Mumbai Boys". YouTube. 2011-08-29. Retrieved 2013-07-16. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Railways move to ensure zero mishaps". DNA India. 2011-12-14. Retrieved 2013-07-16. 
  23. ^ Dubey, Bharati (2013-03-17). "Bollywood shoots boost Western Railways' coffers by Rs 1.5 crore". The Times Of India. Retrieved 2013-07-16. 
  24. ^ "Trains (Mumbai Suburban) run over on accident victim IBN news Marathi 7 Min 21-09-08.DAT". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  25. ^ "Samir Zaveri - A ray of hope for Mumbai's lifeline". YouTube. 2013-06-16. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  26. ^ "Samir Zaveri's crusade for rights of Mumbai's local train commuters". YouTube. 2013-04-07. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  27. ^ "Corrupt RPF Kurla 2min Star News 13-12-09.DAT". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  28. ^ "Corrupt RPF Personnel run fake Railway Court at Kurla station Mumbai, 3min 05-03-11 Zee 24 Tass.MPG". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  29. ^ "MUMBAI NEGLECT MAXIMUM LOCAL (English) HEADLINES TODAY News11-03-2012.mpg". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  30. ^ "Fake Railway court by Extortionist RPF at Kurla station 3 min Zee News 01-12-2010.AVI". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  31. ^ "Railway accident victim, Dadar station master refused 2 call ambulance, NDTV 3min 25-01-2008.DAT". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  32. ^ "Cruelty with female by Railway Police men at Dadar Mumbai Railway station.MPG". YouTube. 2012-10-03. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  33. ^ "Railway accidents Show cuase notice to Rly from Bombay HC Aaj Tak news 4min 13-01-12.MPG". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  34. ^ "MiD DAY STING: Hawkers pay Rs 8 lakh hafta to RPF". YouTube. 2008-11-26. Retrieved 2013-10-29. 

External links[edit]