In this time and age, maintaining social distance has become a norm; there is some good news for railway passengers on Western Railway (WR). The WR authorities introduced 15-car services on slow lines between Andheri and Virar from June 28. For this, they have converted 25 services from 12-car to 15-car.
According to officials, out of the total 25 services, they will be operating 18 services on slow lines while 7 services on fast lines. “We will be running 13 services on Down line (towards Virar end) and 12 services on Up line (towards Andheri end) to 15-car,” said a WR official.
Initially the WR authorities were planning to add three air-conditioned coaches to 12-car to operate on Andheri-Virar route on the slow lines. However, that plan hasn’t taken off. Earlier this month the WR authorities claimed that they were waiting for the state government to further ease the ‘Level-3’ of lockdown restrictions in Mumbai and its metropolitan region.
Sumit Thakur, Chief PRO, Western Railway, “The augmentation to 15 car services is a great boon to the passengers, as it will increase the carrying capacity of these services by 25 percent. The augmentation will provide additional accommodation to the commuters for their convenience and comfort”.
The project for extension of 27 platforms at 14 stations on the slow corridor between Andheri and Virar for running 15-car services on it was carried out at an estimated cost of Rs 60 crore. Massive works of infrastructure development at 14 stations in about 40 kms stretch between Andheri and Virar was carried out. These included extension of 27 platforms to accommodate 15-car rakes, yard remodelling at Andheri, Bhayandar, Vasai and Virar, construction of 5 FOBs and provision of double discharge at Jogeshwari for smooth dispersal of commuters.
During pre-Covid times, there were 18-20 lakh daily commuters on Andheri-Virar section. At present there are barely 13-14 lakh daily passengers on essential duties who are allowed to travel on the WR. Currently the WR are operating 1300 services of which 54 services are 15-car trains on the fast corridor.
The stations like Malad, Kandivali, Borivali, Bhayandar and Nallasopara see lot of crowd alighting and boarding local trains and so this 15-car on slow corridor will surely help. In a 15-car train, under regular conditions at least 6,000 passengers can travel at a time unlike a 12-car train in which around 4,000 passengers commute. Under normal circumstances, the WR operates 1,367 services and in 2009, they first started the 15-car train. The first 12-car services were introduced in 1986 while AC local was started in December 2017.