Thanks to the trend of offices relocating from south Mumbai to its northern parts, Mumbaikars’ local train commute has shrunk considerably over the past three years.
A study of suburban card ticket sales on both Western Railway (WR) and Central Railway (WR) between 2010 and 2012 reveals that 44% or almost half the suburban commuters travel less than 20km a day—a distance equivalent to the Churchgate-Vile Parle stretch on WR. Another 35% limit their journey under 40km or, say, CST to Mumbra on the CR. Just a fraction or 12% of the commuters travel 41km to 60km a day—the distance between Churchgate and Virar on WR, or CST and Ambernath on CR.
These startling figures, collated by the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC), have been aired publicly now, but the railways had already begun introducing more short-distance shuttle services. In 2012, 55 suburban shuttle services were launched.
It is the decentralization of business hubs to Parel, Bandra-Kurla Complex, Andheri, Malad, Ghatkopar and parts of Navi Mumbai which has seen commuters limit their daily travel, said experts.
CR Plans Parel Terminus For Short Services
Mumbai: Experts say decentralization of business districts has helped train commuters cut down on their travel. As P C Sehgal, former managing director of MRVC, said, “The growth centres have shifted and there is a consequent change in Mumbaikars’ travel pattern. Railway authorities need to run more 15-car services between Andheri and Borivli, which, according to me, is the busiest stretch on WR. Likewise, more people now alight at Ghatkopar, Thane, Kurla, Parel and Currey Road. More services should run between Dadar and Kalyan or Thane to take care of the additional load.”
CR, for one, has realized that fewer commuters travel up to CST today. It has, therefore, planned a Parel terminus for shuttle services up to Kalyan and beyond, to avoid loading the already saturated Dadar Terminus.
Shailesh Goyal, former member, National Rail Users’ Consultative Committee, said, “The extended suburbs have also witnessed a phenomenal growth in residential projects. The new townships have also led to a boom in the services sector.”
Currently, the distance of 22km —CST to Vikhroli or Churchgate to Andheri—takes around 40 minutes by a slow local and 30 minutes by a fast; a local runs at an average speed of 40km per hour.
A journey of 34km, which is equivalent to the distance of CSTThane or Churchgate-Borivli, takes almost one hour in a slow train. A fast train covers this stretch on the CR in less than 40 minutes. A trip on a CST-Borivli fast local will be around 55 minutes.
Rail Yatri Sangh’s Subhash Gupta said, “Apart from train travel, a person has to take road transport from the station to his residence or office. This takes another 15 to 20 minutes. It is but natural that a person would like to keep his travel short to spend more time with family.” An MRVC official added, “The travel pattern shows that the majority of commuters prefer their location of residence or their workplace within the 20km range.”
The preference for short-distance travel is higher on CR than on WR. Nearly 29% of CR commuters prefer to travel a distance of 0-10km compared to 9% on WR.
POINT TO POINT
WR and CR has begun introducing shuttle services in the suburbs and extended suburbs due to population growth in these parts. Here’s a look at the number of shuttle services launched in 2012
Thane-Karjat-5 | CST-Kalyan-5 | Thane-Asangaon-3 | Kalyan-Asangaon-3 | Thane-Badlapur-3 | Thane-Kasara-3 | Dadar-Kalyan-3 | Kalyan-Karjat-1
Bandra-Bhayander -1 | Borivli-Virar-9 | Borivli-Nallasopora-1 | Borivli-Vasai Road-1 | Andheri-Bhayander-4 | Andheri-Virar-2 | Borivli-Bhayander-2 | Borivli-Andheri (The figures do not includes services for Dahanu)