Mumbai Suburban Railway

Mumbai Suburban Railway


Mumbai Suburban Railway
मुंबई उपनगरीय रेल्वे
Mumbai suburban rail map.svg
Locale Mumbai, India
Number of lines 3
Number of stations
  • Western: 36
  • Central: 62
  • Harbour: 38
Daily ridership 6.95 Million
Annual ridership 2.54 Billion
Began operation 1857
  • Western: Western Railways
  • Central: Central Railways
  • Harbour: Central Railways
Track gauge 1676 mm (5 ft 6 in) Broad Gauge
Average speed 50 km/h (31 mph)
Top speed 100 km/h (62 mph)

The Mumbai Suburban Railway (Marathi: मुंबई उपनगरीय रेल्वे) system, part of the public transport system of Mumbai, is provided for by the state-run Indian Railways' two zonal Western Railways and Central Railways. The system carries more than 6.9 million commuters on a daily basis. It has one of the highest passenger densities of any urban railway system in the world. The trains plying on its routes are commonly referred to as local trains or simply as locals by the general populace.

The Mumbai Suburban Railway, as well as Indian Railways, are an offshoot of the first railway to be built by the British in India in April 1853, and was also the oldest railway system in Asia. The first train ran between Mumbai and Thane, a distance of 34 km. The Bombay Railway History Group[1] has been striving to document railway heritage along this line.

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 swelled from a heavy inflow of migrants in recent decades, frequent overcrowding has become a serious issue, and numerous safety concerns have been raised over the years. A metro system and a monorail system are under construction in Mumbai to ease the travelling conditions in the Suburban network.



Spread over 465 route kilometres, The Suburban Railway system operates on 1500 V DC / 25000 V AC (Virar-Churchgate & Kasara - Titwala) power supply from overhead catenary lines. The suburban services are run by electric multiple units (EMUs). 191 rakes (train sets) of 9-car,12-car & 15 car (on Western railway) composition are utilised to run 2342 train services, carrying 6.94 million passengers per day.

Zones and Corridors

Two zonal Railways, the Western Railway (WR) and the Central Railway (CR), operate the Mumbai Suburban Railway system. At present, the fast corridors on Central Railway as well as Western Railway are shared for long distance (main line) and freight trains.

Western Line

New trains on the Western Railway

Two corridors (one local and the other through) on Western Railway run northwards from Churchgate terminus parallel to the west coast up to Dahanu Road (120 km). These corridors are popularly referred to as 'Western Line' by the locals mainly because it is operated and owned by the Western Railways. Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) ply between Churchgate and Virar (64 km), while Mainline Electrical Multiple Units (MEMUs) service the section beyond Virar till Dahanu Road (60 km). MEMUs also operate between Dahanu Road and Panvel via a branch line from Vasai Road. There are EMU carsheds at Mumbai Central and Kandivali. An EMU carshed is under construction between Nala Sopara and Virar which will be the largest carshed in Asia. A repair shop for EMUs is situated at Mahalaxmi. Western railway's EMU fleet consists of EMUs running on AC (25 kV) power. EMUs are 9 car, 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.

Central Line

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) on Central Railway run from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to Kalyan (54 km), from where it bifurcates into two lines — one running up to Kasara (67 km) in the north-east and the other running up to Khopoli (61 km) in the south-east. These two corridors constitute the 'Main' Line. The Central main line shares two stations with the Western line at Parel and Dadar. They consist 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 slow.

Automatic Ticket Vending Machine

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

Harbour Line

The Harbour line is part of the Central Railway, and runs a train corridor from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to Andheri, Thane 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 Railway Line at Mahim and continues towards Andheri. The harbour line shares a common station at Kurla with the main line, 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. A large section of the harbour line is elevated.

Future Expansion

Navi Mumbai is expected to get approximately 180km of railway tracks in the near future[2]. Surveys by the MMRDA showed that passenger density in the satellite city was growing at a faster rate than both Western Railway and Central Railway’s main line. Navi Mumbai is expected to have a population of 48 lakh by 2021 and about 80% of the population will travel by train. The State Government, Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation and World Bank officials estimate that railway projects in Navi Mumbai and neighbouring areas of Raigad district will cost around INR14,000-crore.

The routes proposed under the INR14,000-crore project are:

  • CST - Panvel fast track corridor
  • Panvel - Jite - Thal (60.9km)
  • Rewas Port (10.6km)
  • Panvel - Karjat (27.6km)
  • Panvel - Uran (26.9km)
  • Kharkopar - Jite (22.9km)
  • Ranjanapada - Seawood (13.9km)
  • Thal - Alibaug (5.4km)
  • Thane - Bhiwandi (12.5km)


The suburban trains consists of 9 and 12 coaches. To alleviate the problems of overcrowding, the 9 coach trains are being phased out replacing them with 12 coaches. 15 coach trains were introduced in 2010 however, these are few in number. Broadly the train contains the general compartments, ladies compartments,general first class and ladies first class. Men are not allowed to travel in the ladies compartment. The first class being more expensive and thereby tends to be a less crowded. The first class should not be boarded without a valid ticket since the penalty is high if caught.

Each train contains special coaches to cater to different needs. These are normally referred to as 'Compartments'

  • The General compartment: Also commonly called as 'Gent's second class' as the majority population in these compartments is men. The compartment is open to women and children as well.
  • The General First Class compartment: Again commonly known as 'Gent's 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.
  • The Ladies compartment: Commonly known as 'Ladies second class'. This compartment is reserved solely for females, however male children upto 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.
  • The Ladies First Class compartment: Commonly known as 'Ladies first class'. This compartment is reserved solely for females, however male children upto 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 adjacent to the ladies compartment on the western line.
  • For Handicap and Cancer Patients: For the physically challenged and cancer patients, separate coaches are reserved in each train. On a platform, one can locate these by signs or by following a 'Beep- Beep- Beep' sound indicator for the visually impaired. There is no gender discrimination in these coaches however, one needs a valid certificate of disability(in case it is not apparent) to board the compartment. Failure to do so may result in a penalty.
  • For Senior Citizens: A special coach is reserved for passengers above the age of 60. No gender discrimination in these coaches.
  • For goods and heavy luggage: Heavy goods and luggages can be transported via the suburban trains using the compartments specially designed and reserved for this purpose.

Locating the position of compartments can be difficult for newbies and tourists. You can ask the seasoned passengers or always approach the vendors on the food stalls on the platform.


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.

Ticket 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.There are separate queues for general and first class tickets. On some stations, there may be separate windows, or two parallel lines at the same window for the general and first class respectively.

To save time, you may buy a Coupon Booklet and punch the coupons for the designated fare at the Coupon Validating Machines(CVMs) at every station. The ticket fares matrix is pasted above the CVM. 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. 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 Ticket proves to be a cost effective and time efficient option for regular commuters.

Tourists can avail the option of 'Tourist ticket'. With it, one can travel in First Class compartments of all the three suburban lines(Western, Central and Harbour) for a unlimited journies for an entire day.


Mobile-based local train timetables with comprehensive route and search features are available.[2][3][4][5]


The interior of new rakes

A bulk of the current fleet of both the Western and Central railways features old rakes which are capable of a maximum speed of 85 km/h in regular service. Most of these rakes are built by Jessop (Kolkata) and ICF (Perambur). The recently introduced AC/DC rakes (more modern motors in the existing carriage designs) are capable of 100 km/h under low 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 November 12, 2007, 1st rake 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 lookout glass, better suspension systems and a novel roof mounted forced ventilation system, station indicators in all coaches, GPS based Public information system in all coaches. These rakes have been procured under the project at a total cost of Rs 1,900 crore (Rs 19 billion) (USD 431.0 million).

Brand new rakes will replace the ageing fleet of suburban trains

As on Sep 2010, 102 out of 129 new trains have been delivered to Mumbai Suburban Railway.[3] Total cost of this project is INR5,300 crore (US$1.07 billion) [4]

Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC)

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 July 12, 1999, with an equity capital of INR25 crore (US$5.1 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.

Current Projects of MRVC status as on January 2010
1) Kurla - Thane 5th & 6th Line - Started the use of the same.
2) Thane - Diva 5th & 6th Line - to be used for Local E.M.U. services.

Safety issues


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.[5] Over 4,500 passengers are packed into a 9-car rake during peak hours, as against the rated carrying capacity of 1,700.[5] This has resulted in what is known as Super-Dense Crush Load of 14 to 16 standing passengers per square meter 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.


It has been advised for safety concerns for tourists to avoid the trains during weekdays, or at least during the morning and evening peak hours. Avoid travelling from north to south between 8 am and 11 am in the morning and from south to north between 6 pm and 9 pm at night. The best way to enjoy the trains is on Sundays when they are relatively empty. However, watch out for Sundays when work is done on the tracks, as it could mean that trains are still crowded on a Sunday. During the work day, beware of getting on the express trains or 'fast trains' as they are called denoted on stations by 'F', especially the trains to Virar.


More than 3,500 people died on the Mumbai suburban railway tracks annually due to unsafe riding on trains or trespassing on railway tracks or as a result of suicide attempts. This is believed to be the highest number of fatalities per year on any urban or suburban railway system. Most of the deaths are of passengers crossing the tracks on foot, instead of using the footbridges provided for going from one platform to another, and are hit by passing trains. Some passengers die when they sit on train roofs to avoid the crowds and are electrocuted by the overhead electric wires, or hang from doors and window bars. These figures are from past, however the rate has 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 and Western Railway was forced to release under the Right to Information Act that at least 20,706 people have died in the last five years; an average of 10 each day. The request was filed by Mumbai activist Chetan Kothari.

According to The Times of UK, Mumbai's local railway network was one of the deadliest in the world: a record 17 people died every weekday on the city's suburban railway network in 2008.[6] Most deaths were people being run over while trespassing on the tracks. However, recently Central Railways has resorted to some innovative methods to manage trespassing. Central Railways, in association with Final Mile, a behaviour architecture firm deployed neuroscience based interventions at the Wadala station. For the last year or so, the death rates have reduced by about 75%. Boston Globe carried a news item on this ([7] ). Times of India carried a news item regarding the success of this experiment ([8])

The next biggest cause of death was of passengers who fell (or were pushed) from carriages that travel at 64km/h (40mph), are often dangerously full. Another 41 people perished after being bludgeoned by trackside poles while hanging out of overcrowded trains. Twenty-one were electrocuted by power cables when they sat on the roof.

Western Railway has pledged that its trains will stop running if "even a single person" is seen travelling on the roof. “We know that halting a train during peak hours will result in a lot of chaos. However, we cannot let people travel this way as they will surely lose their lives,” a railway spokesman told The Times of India.

Terrorist attacks

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

  • 14 March 2003 - A bomb went off in a train in Mulund killing 10
  • 11 July 2006 - A series of seven bombs went off in trains killing 207
  • 26 November 2008 - Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus was also attacked during the 2008 Mumbai Attacks killing at least 60 people.


See also

Portal icon Mumbai portal
Portal icon Trains portal


External links

  • Line 1: 23 operational, 4 proposed
  • Line 2: 12 proposed
  • Line 3: 13 proposed
  • Line 4: 9 proposed
  • Line 5: 11 proposed
  • Line 6: 12 proposed

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