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Saturday , 4 December 2021

Analysing the Risk Exposure at Mumbai Suburban Rail

Opportunities for Improvements at Thane Station

While the railway authorities are in the process of planning for the betterment of the station area, a few lean ways of improving the situation, however, could be as below.

1. Introduction of Circle Line

Circle line is a proven concept at London Tube network where it was introduced by tuning the schedules of services of other lines to accommodate a circular route to carry passenger load from catchment stations of major suburban stations, thereby reducing crowding in other corridor trains as well as on stations.

A similar situation is seen in the case of Thane, where catchment stations like Kanjurmarg, Bhandup, Thane on up side and Dombivali, Mumbra and Kalwa on downward side induce flow of commuters who cross over from the Central Harbour-Vashi line. Kanjurmarg also serves as the catchment area for commuters from western suburbs who switch over from buses to trains to reach beyond Thane, i.e. Kalyan and Navi Mumbai.

The introduction of Circle Line in segments described in Illustration 4 shall help in betterment of commuter circulation at Thane Station.

The station has ten platforms. Platforms 1 to 4 are reserved for slow trains; 5 to 7 for fast trains & long distance trains, and 9 and 10 for trains going towards Vashi/Panvel. Illustration 3 gives schematic view of the railway station layout.

2. Improvements in Station Premises

The commuter activity pattern described in Illustration 2 lists the key activities like reaching platform, boarding train, alighting and exit from station. These activities are linked to circulation at railway stations where, in the event of the situation described above, the probability of occurrence of causes listed in Table 2 becomes high. Illustration 5 gives simple remedial measures to overcome the challenges faced by the commuters in moving within the station premises. The focus area of these are:

A. Smooth exit for commuters ending journey at Thane

B. Easy transit of commuters currently changing over to the other corridors at Thane

3. Long Term Improvements

Apart from the above mentioned measures where there is minimal effort like construction, etc.,Thane station needs definite long term improvements. Some of the initiatives are listed below. These require consent from different authorities, a feasibility study and expenditure for construction activity among many other things.

A. Minimising stoppages of trains before the station to prevent commuters alighting on tracks

B. Introduction of Kopri Station to ease load on the main Thane station

C. Model entry at station with restricted access

D. Use of Airspace above the station to accommodate shops required to be cleared to expand the forecourt areas

E. Leveraging connectivity from Airoli to Kalyan down line to link Vashi to Kalyan

F. Electronic ticketing and efficient passenger information

G. Introducing water transport between Thane –Vasai

H. Provision of ramps on platforms 7, 8, 9 & 10 for the benefit of physically challenged commuters

I. Drive-In facility at SATIS / Forecourt to drop and drive out

J. Website to allow constructive suggestions from citizens to save time & expenses of consultations by railways to identify improvement measures

4. Concept of Common Ticketing

The concourse of railway station is crowded with long queues for tickets. The Mumbai rail authorities have introduced options like “Go Mumbai Card” and “Tourist Tickets” along with coupons to minimise this rush. However, many value-added features can be provided to the touch card tickets to increase populatity and its usage. London Tube introduced “Oyster cards” in 2006 and within three years, majority of commuters switched to it leaving ticket counters nearly deserted. National Rail in the UK offers the facility to buy day tickets while booking long distance travel. This facility can be easily extended through irctc portal. A comparison of London Oyster Card and Mumbai Go Card with the benefits of the features is given in table 3 above.

End user satisfaction is the key factor in any service oriented industry – the Railway is no exception to it. In a competitive world where alternative modes of transport are challenging the system, the rail transport mode is by far the most preferred alternative. With the massive road infrastructure development, the day is not too far away when other modes of transport, like road, shall pose a major threat to the railway. Solutions through the lean approach like the ones outlined here are the ways and means to identify such measures in the shortest possible time.

Praful Gharpure
Architect – Urban Planner
Government Industry Solution Unit
Tata Consultancy Services – Mumbai



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