Crowded Peak hour trains grab much attention of those who use the Mumbai suburban railways. But the Central and Western Railway run more than 100 train services, dubbed “anti-peak rakes” that ferry passengers towards the suburbs in the morning hours and towards south Mumbai in the evenings. Never catering to the rush hour crowds, these trains terminate and commence from “non-terminus” stations.
Unknown to most, barring regular users, the “anti-peak rakes” run on the fast lines. “These train services are different from the usual train services. They run on the fast lines and witness fewer stops. We are aware that they do not see heavy rush but as they complete a link of rakes, it is essential to ply them,” a railway official said. “The essential purpose of these rakes is to reach the last railway station that is not a terminus, like Malad on the Western Railway and Ghatkopar on the Central Railway. They run in the opposite direction from the usual peak hour traffic. We use these rakes to help start train traffic from the railway stations,” a senior railway official said.
Central and Western Railway run close to 3,500 train services every day on the suburban railways. “While preparing the timetable, we take into consideration essential factors like demands of passenger groups requiring specific train services and the possibility of adding more services in a section. These rakes are essential because they connect stations,” a railway official added.
A 7.56 am Mankhurd-bound local from Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), a 5.20 pm Malad-to-Churchgate service and morning services to Kurla and Chembur from CSMT on the Harbour Line are examples of “anti-peak rakes”. “The routes of such rakes keep changing according to the demands of passengers. Earlier, we used to ply many Mankhurd-bound trains and trains originating from Mankhurd stations, when passenger footfall was thinner at Vashi station. Over the years, the need reduced but we still ply the local train from Mankhurd as commuters demand it. There is also a demand to run a train from Vasind railway station although it hardly accounts for any originating traffic,” a railway official said.
Despite thinner crowd, such locals witness a dedicated set of commuters. “I am a regular user of the 5.47 pm Malad-Churchgate local train. I take the train from Grant Road station every evening so that I can use it to go back to Borivali from Churchgate. It has become a habit over the years. These trains witness thinner traffic compared to the regular trains,” said Maya Kale, who works at a school near Grant Road.
For officials, running “anti-peak rakes” is essential. “We cannot stop plying these trains as they form a link. But it consumes 40 per cent of our operations capacity to provide maximum trains in peak hours. While forming a timetable, we aim to reduce the need of such services,” a railway official said.