The local trains in Mumbai are by far the cheapest, fastest and most convenient way to get around the city. For newcomers to Mumbai, figuring out the railway system here could be a bit perplexing. We have tried to simplify things for you, so the next time you want to go for a cricket match at the D.Y.Patil stadium or for a trek at Karjat or spend a weekend in Lonavala, you won't find yourself lost in the middle of nowhere. The "Lines":
The Mumbai suburban railways are primarily broken up into 3 lines - the Central, Western and Harbour lines. Refer to the map attached (and also to Google Maps) to see how these lines cover the entire megacity. At the root of the Central and Harbour lines is Mumbai C.S.T (previously called VT, short for Victoria Terminus), the station at which most of you arrived if you hail from the eastern or the southern parts of the country. The Western line starts at Churchgate, and as the name suggests, continues up north along the Western coast. However the terminating station for long distance trains on this line is Mumbai Central (BCT). Slow/Fast trains:
An important thing you need to know is that there are 2 types of trains - slow and fast. The slow trains stop at all stations, whereas the fast ones don't. The fast train stations are marked with a larger font on all railway maps. There are also semi-fast trains. Also, note that all Central trains (whether fast or slow) stop at all stations to the north of Kalyan.
The nearest station to the campus is Kanjurmarg, which is on the Central line. You can take a auto rickshaw or a BEST bus (going towards Mulund) down to Kanjur, as we fondly call it. Fast trains do NOT stop at Kanjur. The closest "fast" station is Ghatkopar, which is 15-25min away (by rickshaw), depending on traffic. Junctions:
The three networks have a few common stations where you can switch over from one Line to another. Dadar station connects the Central line to the Western, while Kurla is common to both the Central and Harbour lines. There is also one branch of the Harbour Line that connects to the Western (Wadala Rd to Andheri). Separate tickets need not be purchased for travelling on different lines in one journey.Megablocks:
Railways often decrease/block the traffic to carry out scheduled periodic maintenance of tracks and signals. Most of the times only a part of traffic is affected, say, fast line only. It is better to be informed of such blocks and plan your travel accordingly instead of sweating on the platform for a train and struggling on the train for a place. Often these blocks are scheduled on holidays during off-peak hours. Compartments:
The trains have either 9 or 12 coaches. Besides the Ladies coach, the Handicapped coach and the Luggage coach, there are First Class and Second Class coaches for the general public. The seats in the First Class are better but the rates are 10 times those of the Second Class. Make sure you do not travel by First Class if you have a Second Class ticket. Fines for travel without appropriate ticket are steep. A First Class Coach is right next to the Ladies Coach. Also, some special Ladies Only local trains ply on the routes during rush hours. Tickets:
If you want to avoid the long queues at ticket booking counters, you can purchase a coupon booklet from the counter without standing in line, if you are on Western Railways however you would have to be in queue if you're on Central Railways. The amount to be punched would be written somewhere near the counter, and the coupon validating machines (CVMs) are there itself. A return ticket has to be used within 24 hours of purchasing, except on weekends. If you buy a ticket on Saturday, the return journey could be completed until Monday. Only one way tickets can be purchased using coupons. Often the CVMs are not working (aargh!), in which case there is a date and place stamp and an inkpad kept near the ticket counter which can be used to validate your coupon. If you find yourself having to travel by train often (to Lamington, for example), you could go for the Smart Card (it is a pretty smart option (actually). You could purchase one at any ticket counter by giving a minimal refundable deposit. All you have to do then is to put some balance on the card, which has unlimited validity and can be refilled without even having to stand in line. To get a ticket for a particular journey, you just have to place the card on the machine, select your options (destination, single/return, no. of people) and you get a ticket from the machine. The Smart Card is transferable and can be used by any of your friends. Now that's smart, isn't it?Rush Hours:
Trains being the most popular means of transport in Mumbai, it is essential that you plan your travel according to the direction of traffic. As most of the offices are towards Mumbai C.S.T and Churchgate (South Bombay), the trains going that way are very crowded in the morning (from around 7am - 11am). The traffic again peaks in the evening (5pm - 9pm) in the opposite direction. However, if you absolutely must travel during these hours, smart planning and intelligent switching of trains can help you avoid the rush.Train Timetable:
The local train schedule is available at the following sites:http://www.wr.indianrail.gov.in/mysite3/index.htmhttp://www.go4mumbai.com/http://www.sindhunagar.com/railway.php Long distance trains:
Mumbai C.S.T, Dadar, Thane, Kalyan (on the Central line) and Mumbai Central, Dadar (some), Borivali (on the Western line) are the stations where you can catch almost all interstate trains going out of Mumbai. In addition to these, we have the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) on the Central line which can be accessed via Tilak Nagar station on the Harbour line (Kanjur -> Kurla -> Tilak Nagar). Most of the trains going East (towards central Maharashtra, Kolkata) or South depart from the terminals on the Central line, while the trains going North (Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Delhi) and West (Rajasthan, Gujarat) depart from the Western line. It is advisable to catch long distance trains at their starting stations as they do not halt for a very long time at intermediate stations. Outstation reservations:
The most hassle free way of booking outstation tickets is from the IRCTC website
. You will first have to create an account (which is free) on the site. The ticket can be paid for by means of Internet banking or a Debit/Credit card. There are 2 options available for acquiring your ticket: i-ticket (the ticket is delivered to a given address) and e-ticket (you get a soft copy of the ticket which can be printed). Going for an e-ticket is advisable as you can always go down to the print shop and get a copy. You do not even have to worry about it getting lost as it can always be reprinted. Ticket bookings can also be done from the Post Office at YP market. The reservation counter is open from 8am to about 12pm(noon) on weekdays.The Concession form:
All students are eligible for 40% concession on sleeper class travel to their hometowns during each of the semester breaks. The forms are available at the academic office around 40 days before the starting of vacations(the exact dates would be displayed on the notice board at the right time). There are two kinds of applications: for the western and central lines associated with finally obtaining the pink and white forms respectively. The processing of the forms takes 2-3 working days, and you get two concession forms for the onward and return journey respectively. In most of the cases, your exams will end before the date mentioned on the form, and you can get an additional stamp ensuring the preponement of the validity of the form. Next step is the verification which is to be done at Kanjur by the station master. It is advisable to go between 10-1 and 2-4 otherwise you may end up doing many useless trips. Finally, you need to present the verified forms during the booking to avail the discount. However, keep in mind that the ticket for the onward journey needs to be booked within 14 days after the verification while that of return journey has a 3 month period. The sad part is you have to go the nearest station (Bhandup/Vikhroli) to avail the discount as the interface at the post office doesn't support it. Safety:
We don't mean to scare you, but do keep in mind that approximately 3000 people die on Mumbai's local rail tracks annually. This however, is usually a result of their own carelessness/stupidity. NEVER cross the tracks to get to the other side, and do avoid leaning outside the door while the train is in motion. Don't even think about travelling on the roof of the train. Make sure you get on/off the train quickly, when it comes to a stop at a station. If your journey is relatively longer (like from CST to Kanjur) it would be better (and way more comfortable) for you to squeeze inside and find a place to sit or stand in the aisles. If your journey spans only a few stations, find a place to stand by the walls outside the sitting area (especially if you have baggage). Do not obstruct the passageway to the door. If you have very heavy/large luggage you may be better off taking an auto or bus or taxi. Also, beware of pickpockets. When people are packed more efficiently than what any chemistry book can teach you, it is easy to snitch someone's wallet.
If these seem to be very hefty suggestions, relax. With your first local journey, you will surely learn them all by yourself. Other modes of transport:
The other modes of public transport available in the city are the BEST buses, autos and taxis. The BEST buses generally act as the feeder system for the Mumbai locals. They run for comparatively smaller distances within 2-3 suburbs. You have to buy the tickets after boarding the bus. There are defined rates for every route.
Auto: It is mandatory for autos to have an electronic meter. The meter displays distance, time and fare. Always pay by the meter. You will be charges 25% extra as "night charges" if you are travelling between 12 midnight and 5 am which, thankfully, will be calculated by meter itself.
Taxi: Same with taxis; always pay the fare by the meter. The Future!
As you may have noticed if you've moved around the northern suburbs, there is extensive construction going on to build the Mumbai Metro, another rail based mass rapid transit system. Most of its lines will be transverse to the locals (ie, east-west) and parts of will be above and underground too! Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar line is expected to get ready by the end of this year. There's also a Monorail project going on which is a feeder system for existing suburban railway network. The section between Wadala and Jacob Circle is also expected to be completely operational by the end of the year. These projects have multiple phases and these will certainly not get completed before your batch graduates.
We hope you don't feel lost in Mumbai anymore. If all of this sounds very scary, don't worry, it's not as hard as it sounds. You'll soon get used to it. People in Mumbai are quite helpful, so don't hesitate to ask passers-by for assistance. That's how most of us learnt our way around too. If you own a smartphone, you can download 'm-indicator'. It is a must have app that also keeps you updated on Mega Blocks et al.
[Credits to Ashwin Carvalho, Aashish Sharma, Aishwary Dale and Siddharth Shanbhag]