More capacity in Mumbai
Every day, the 302 route-km Mumbai suburban rail network operates as a surface metro carrying 6·1 million passengers in 1985 trains. To say that the network is heavily overloaded is an understatement, with as many as 4600 people travelling in, and on, nine-car trains during the morning peak hours. Plans for modernisation have existed for many years, and some progress has been made.
IR has now bundled a package of improvement schemes into what is known as Phase I, whose estimated cost is US$649·6m. The cost is being shared equally between Indian Railways and the government of Maharashtra.
Work in Phase I includes a range of infrastructure improvement projects. Among these are removal of all level crossings, lengthening of platforms to accommodate 12-car trains, resignalling to allow more frequent services, track rehabilitation and drainage improvements, and the easing of speed restrictions on turnouts at Dadar, Kurla and Thane.
Power supplies are being strengthened, but there is also a programme to convert the traction power supply from 1·5 kV DC to 25 kV 50Hz. This has required the use of dual-voltage rolling stock.
Other work includes construction of a new station at Oshiwara and rebuilding at Goregaon to provide turnback facilities for some services; remodelling of Mumbai CST and Kalyan yards is also planned.
Both the 60 km run by IR's Western zone from Virar to Churchgate and the Central zone's Harbour line to Navi (New) Bombay are gradually being equipped for 12-car trains running at shorter headways.
Capacity expansion projects are intended primarily to segregate suburban traffic from long-distance and freight services, so increasing capacity for commuter trains. Among these projects are provision of a fifth track from Santacruz to Mahim and modification of the Harbour line flyover at Khar, adding a fifth and sixth track between Kurla and Thane, quadrupling between Borivali and Bhayander, and between Bhayander and Virar.
IR plans to procure 101 nine-car EMUs to expand the present fleet. Of these, 51 sets will provide additional capacity, and will be dual-voltage trains to replace existing DC units.
Work on all these projects is expected to be complete by 2007. One of the more sensitive aspects of the work is the need to rehouse people affected by the construction of additional tracks. IR says that over 10400 people have already been resettled.
When Phase I is finished, IR will be able to offer its commuters more comfort during the peak hours. Stations will be improved, service levels increased, waiting times cut, and journey times shortened.
CAPTION: Dual-voltage EMU built for commuter services in Mumbai