At a time and age when maintaining social distancing has become a norm, there is some good news for WR passengers. The 15-car train service is ready to be operated by the authorities on the slow corridor of Andheri-Virar section.
The service will begin as soon as the lockdown ends. The WR is currently waiting for the state government to ease the ‘Level-3’ lockdown restrictions in the city and its metropolitan region. Senior officials from the WR said they have completed work on extending the tracks, signalling poles, its equipment and other materials were procured at a cost of Rs 70 crore.
With this, 15-car trains can be accommodated even on the slow track, which earlier could accommodate only 12-car trains. “We have completed necessary work for the purpose of running 15-car trains on the slow line. We shall start operating once lockdown restrictions are over,” said a WR official. This would benefit and bring respite to 18-20 lakh daily commuters on the Andheri-Virar section that would get 33% additional capacity in each train service.
Sources said that at least 100 odd services of 12- car will be converted to 15- car though they are yet to take a call. At present there are barely 13-14 lakh daily passengers on essential duties who are allowed to travel on the WR.
Currently, the WR is operating 1,300 services; of which 54 services are 15-car trains on the fast corridor. Stations like Malad, Kandivali, Borivali, Bhayander and Nallasopara see a lot of crowd alighting and boarding local trains and so this 15-car on the slow corridor will surely help.
Initially, the WR authorities were to start this by January 2020, but due to Covid-19, everything got postponed and delayed. 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.
This augmentation of train capacity can help ferry 7 lakh people on the slow corridor. The WR authorities completed work on all the 14 stations on the Andheri-Virar corridor. Under normal situation, the WR operates 1,367 services and in 2009, they first started the 15-car train