Western Railway plans to open up fifth line between Andheri and Virar

Heavy rush: The Western Railway authorities have been looking to expand the Andheri-Virar services to ease the load of increasing number of passengers.  

Mumbai: The Western Railway (WR) authorities, for the first time, plan to run local trains on the ‘suburban track avoiding’ (STA) line as a fifth line between Andheri and Virar. At present, the track is used only for long-distance trains.

The increasing number of passengers and the resultant safety issues on the route have prompted the authorities to think about expanding the services. More than one lakh passengers are likely to benefit from the new line.

The trains will run on the STA line between Andheri and Borivali, while from Borivali to Virar they will run on the existing fast tracks. The trains will run only during peak hours: between 8.30 and 11.30 in the morning, and from 5.30 to 8.30 in the evening.

According to senior WR officials, the plan is to start the services from May, or July at the latest. “From our end, the work will be completed in the next month, and then Commission of Railway Safety (CRS) will give us a go ahead to run the services. Usually, CRS takes approximately one or two months to issue safety certificates,” said an official.

Passenger traffic beyond Andheri towards Virar has increased in the past few years. The increase in commercial hubs in suburbs like Bandra and Andheri have resulted in more and more people choosing to live in areas beyond Andheri, towards Virar and Dahanu. According to railway reports, the maximum increase in passenger numbers has been at Nallasopara station this year, as compared to last year. Officials say that once the new line is operational, each service will reduce the load of nearly 5,000 passengers. The carrying capacity per rake, however, is approximately 3,500 passengers.

“This will be the first time that suburban local trains will be running on the STA line. We have been working on the possibilities to increase the services on this stretch for long. We found the solution in thefifth line on this line, as it is only used for long-distance trains, and that too at a very low frequency — hardly one train per hour,” the official said.

He said the existing suburban lines are already saturated, and there is no space for expansion.

The difference in width, however, was a problem in using the STA line for local trains. The width of long-distance trains is 3,250 mm, while local trains are 3,650 mm wide. “This width was the biggest issue, as we also had to adjust the overhead equipment (OHE) structure accordingly. But now, this problem has been sorted out. We are working as per the timetable, and we hope that nearly 20 additional services will be added with this line,” said the official. At present, Western Railway runs 1,323 services on the suburban section with 86 rakes. This line will add around five rakes and 20 services.

Mukul Jain, divisional railway manager, Western Railway, said, “There were a few issues, which have now been resolved, and we are in the process to send a report to the CRS to get the safety certificate. We can expect the services to start soon.”

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 4:51:40 AM |

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