Mumbai–Mulling major makeover for the much-stressed Mumbai suburban train system, the Central Railway is studying an ambitious Rs 20,000-crore plan to improve services. This includes acquisition of 150 new rakes, introduction of additional routes and provision of adequate parking lines.

Central Railway General Manager Akhil Agrawal told media at the Mumbai Press Club on Thursday that the Central Railway has already taken various steps like increasing frequency of trains and introducing 12-coach rakes. This has resulted in fall in deaths on tracks due to various reasons over the past eight months to 1,414 from 2,187 during the previous year.

Agrawal said he was studying the report of a committee on improving suburban services in the metropolis and will soon take an appropriate decision.

The committee, formed at the instance of Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu who was shocked after a video clip of an accidental death near Thane went viral, notes that 10 people die daily on CR tracks and the basic reason for this is the huge demand-supply gap.

The committee has warned that the situation with the existing stock can be “explosive” by 2030 as the number of casualties will multiply manifold due to open doors of tghe coaches. It has underlined the need for CR trains to have air-conditioning and door closers.

The interaction was part of Mumbai Press Club Knowledge Series programme, powered by Public Relations Council of India (PRCI).

Quoting from the report, PRCI National President B.N. Kumar said CR works at 400+ per cent capacity on normal days and at times even exceeds 800+ per cent capacity. The committee called for additional exclusive platforms to handle suburban trains, new trains to bridge the gap, and stabling lines to help double the services.

The panel envisages 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 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. “We are making provision for new rakes as we acquire them,” he said.

Agrawal said punctuality on the suburban network rose by two per cent due to the improvement in the working of the system. “We are continuously monitoring and taking steps to plug loopholes,” he said.

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