Two first year students of Masters in Visual Communication programme of Industrial Design Centre, IIT, Jaikishan Patel and Snehal Patil, have designed a commuter-friendly map of Mumbai's suburban rail network. Image Credit: Courtesy: Jaikishan Patel

Mumbai: Two students at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay have come up with a commuter-friendly, easy to understand railway map for the Mumbai suburban railway network in English, Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati.

Commuting by Mumbai’s local trains can be a daunting experience, not just for a first-time traveller, but even for a regular commuter going to an unfamiliar destination.

Rail maps play a critical role in providing travel-related information to help commuters navigate and to guide them towards making an informed decision for their journey.

Mumbai, which has one of the busiest rapid transit systems in the world, operating more than 2,000 train services and carrying more than 7 million passengers daily, had no well-designed and authentic maps available on its railway network.

This situation prompted Jaikishan Patel and Snehal Patil — first-year Masters students in the Visual Communication programme at IIT’s Industrial Design Centre — to work meticulously on an easy-to-understand, colour-coded railway map for commuters and address the shortcomings in existing maps.

The map is designed to also be accessible by people who are colour blind.

The map clear distinguishes between fast and slow local stops, uses appealing visual design and even includes the shuttle expressway, which runs from Vasai to Roha.

The document includes connecting routes that link Western, Central, Harbour and Trans Harbour train stations. It also attempts to incorporate the route map of the under construction Mumbai Metro and Nerul-Uran railway link.

Speaking about the special features of their map, Patil said, “Our map introduces a quick navigation system, which lets the user locate his stations within seconds using the box grid.”

When asked what made the two students design a new map when commuters are already navigating in Mumbai, the duo said they felt every new traveller is introduced to the Mumbai locals in a very complicated manner.

The three suburban lines operating in the city cause confusion and people have no other option but to ask those around them continuously.

“Having an authentic map can resolve the problems people face,” said Patel. “With the new design, the commuter can have an overview of the Mumbai Suburban rail system at a glance and avoid detours.”

The map is available printable, which is handy for tourists and others who may wish to carry a copy around.

“What we dreamt was that “You Are Here” maps are installed at each railway station for commuters,” the designers said.