Mumbai: In a major makeover plan for the much-stressed Central Railway (CR) suburban system, the management is studying an ambitious Rs200 billion plan to improve services that include acquisition of 150 new trains, introduction of additional routes and adequate parking lines.
A committee to study improving the suburban services was formed at the instance of Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu who was shocked after a video clip of an accidental death near Thane went viral, learns that 10 people die daily on CR tracks and the basic reason for this is the huge demand-supply gap.
The report of the committee is being studied, after which an appropriate decision will be taken, said Akhil Agrawal, Central Railway General Manager, at a Mumbai Press Club Knowledge Series programme powered by the Public Relations Council of India (PRCI), on Thursday.
The committee cautioned that the situation with the existing stock can be “explosive” by 2030 as the number of casualties will multiply manifold due to open doors on the trains. The committee also cautioned and stressed that CR trains need air-conditioning and door closures much before the Western Railway. To this, the general manager assured A/C locals will begin running by the end of this year.
Agrawal said the CR has already taken various steps like increasing frequency of trains and introducing 12 coach trains/rakes which reduced death on the tracks, due to various reasons, over the past eight months to 1414 from 2187 in the previous year.
Quoting from the report, PRCI national president B N Kumar said that CR works at more than 400 per cent capacity on normal days and at times even exceeds 800 per cent capacity and called for additional exclusive platforms to handle suburban trains, new trains to bridge the gap, and stabilising lines to help double the services.
The committee had envisaged that half of the projected investment is to go for acquiring new rakes, while the stabling lines or parking places for trains to reduce piling up of rakes — akin to bumper to bumper road traffic — will be developed on a self-financing basis.
Responding to questions on parking or stabling lines, Agrawal said there was a space constraint in Mumbai city area. Hence the Railway is looking at areas like Thane, Kalyan and even beyond and in touch with civic bodies for this purpose. “We are making provisions for new rakes as we acquire them.”
Agrawal said punctuality on the suburban network rose by 2 per cent due to the improvement in the working of the system. “We are continuously monitoring and taking steps to plug loopholes,” he said.
He was also assured better basic facilities for the commuters. He said the issue of toilets and lavatories across the stations would be taken on a priority basis. He emphasised on making trains much cleaner so that passengers are not hassled.