Two zonal Railways, the Western Railway (WR) and the Central Railway (CR), operate the Mumbai Suburban Railway system. At present, the fast corridors on Central Railway as well as Western Railway are shared for long distance (main line) and freight trains.
Two corridors (one local and other through) on Western Railway run northwards from Churchgate terminus parallel to the west coast up to Dahanu Road (120 km). These corridors are popularly referred to as ‘Western Line’ by the locals mainly because it is operated and owned by the Western Railways. Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) ply between Churchgate and Virar and beyond Virar till Dahanu, Diesel Multiple Units and engine hauled shuttles are plied. The distance between Churchgate to Virar and Virar to Dahanu is almost the same, but it is surprising that the former has 28 stations, but the latter has just 6 stations! The prime stations on this route are Churchgate, Mumbai Central, Dadar, Bandra, Andheri, Borivali, Mira Road, Vasai, Bhayander and Virar. Western railway’s EMU fleet consists of EMUs running on Direct Current (1.5 KV DC) power as well as those running as bi-current i.e. Alternating Current (25 KV) as well as Direct Current (1.5 KV) power. EMUs are 9 car or 12 car formations and are differentiated as slow and fast locals. Slow trains halt at all stations, while fast ones halt at important stations only and take less travelling time obviously.
Two corridors (one local and other through) on Central Railway run from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to Kalyan (54 km), from where it bifurcates into Kalyan–Kasara (67 km) in the north-east and Kalyan–Karjat–Khopoli(61 km) in south-east. It also operates diesel multiple units (DMUs) on the routes connecting Diva Junction on Central Railway and Vasai Road on Western Railway and Diva Junction to Roha via Panvel. These corridors are popularly referred to as ‘Central Line’ or ‘Main Line’ by the locals. They also consist of a fleet of DC as well as AC/DC powered EMUs. The major car sheds on this line are at Kurla and Kalwa for Main line and Sanpada for harbour line. There are fast and slow locals here for suburban service. Slow locals halt at every station, while fast locals halt vary between Byculla, Dadar, Kurla, Ghatkoper, Vikhroli, Bhandup, Mulund, Thane, Dombivali and Kalyan. All services plying beyond Kalyan run slow and thus halt at all stations. Also all harbour line services operate as slow services. Abbreviations are used by local trains as follows:
A = Ambernath AD= Andheri (Harbour) AN= Asangaon B = Bandra (Harbour) BL= Badlapur BR= Belapur (Harbour) C = Kurla CH= Kurla Harbour CM= Chembur D = Dadar DI= Dombiwali G = Ghatkoper K = Kalyan KP= Khopoli M = Mankhurd (Harbour) N = Kasara PL= Panvel (Harbour) S = Karjat T = Thane TH= Thane (Harbour) TL= Titwala V = Vashi
Through trains go to North, South, East, North East frontier of the country e.g. Amritsar, Howrah, Guwhati, Chennai, Kanyakumari. They leave from either Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus Mumbai (CSTM), Dadar or Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT, Kurla). The locomotives that are used by through trains are WCAM3 (W=Broad Gauge, C=Direct Current Power, A=Alternating Current Power, M=Mixed use for freight or passenger) and WCG2 (W=Broad Gauge, C=Direct Current Power, G=Goods train) and WDM 2 (W=Broad Gauge, D=Diesel, M= Mixed carriage) and WDG 3A “Shakti” (W=Broad Gauge, D=Diesel, G=Goods haulage). WCG2 locomotives are used by passenger, goods as well as for banking trains to help them climb up the Western Ghats while goin to either Pune (South) or Igatpuri (North). Also WDS 4D, WDS 4B and WDS6 as well WDM 2S (inferior service)locomotives are used for shunting duties (W=Broad Gauge, D=Diesel, S=Shunter). Trip sheds for these locomotives are situated at Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Kurla and Kalyan. The Electric and Diesel locomotive sheds are located at Kalyan.
There is a branch line on Central Railway connecting Neral (South of Kalyan) connecting the beautiful hill station of Matheran in the form of a narrow gauge line. However, due to recent incessant rains and floods, these lines were washed away and hence are under reconstruction and rehabilitation.
Commuters wait for a train on the Harbour line at Bandra
The 5th corridor on Central Railway runs from CST to Raoli Junction (11 km) from where the line splits. One line goes north west to join WR at Mahim and goes up to Andheri (11 km), and the other goes eastward to terminate at Panvel (39 km) via Navi Mumbai. This corridor is popularly referred to as ‘Harbour Line’ by the locals. The Harbour line has been further added as a link between Thane and Vashi via Airoli, Rabale, Ghansoli, Koparkhairne, Turbhe and Sanpada. This line operates 12 services in each direction every day and is soon expected to rise in term of number of services due to increasing response from commuters.