The much-publicised Rs 4,500-crore Mumbai Urban Transport Project, primarily a World Bank baby, got underway yesterday afternoon. The first suburban rake (a train consisting of 12 coaches), designed by Siemens of Germany and built at Chennai’s Integral Coach Factory, had its inaugural run between Churchgate and Virar, the last destination of Western Railway’s Suburban Section.
The inauguration was delayed by several months and brought cheers from more than 3.5 million commuters. They looked forward to travelling in a swanky, spacious and technically equipped train. Under the MUTP, Mumbai’s suburban sections of Western and Central Railways are expected to get 157 such rakes.
The decrepit fleets being used by the two railways to carry about 6 million commuters turned obsolete years (decades?) ago but are being run at the risk of potential harm to commuters who find local trains ~ arteries of Mumbai ~ convenient. For want of enough rakes, the railways were unable to increase their daily services. This made travel a daily ordeal.
The new train inaugurated yesterday had been lying unused in a carshed since its arrival in July.
Authorities had deferred their launch on several counts. First, they realised that the motormen (drivers) needed to be trained to run the rakes. Second, their suitability on local tracks was to be tested. It took several months to press the train into service. Third, another rake of identical built is being tested. Finally, a new start to the modernisation of suburban sections has been welcomed by the commuters.