Boarding Dilemma & Mumbai’s Local Problem

Ideally, the train has to be boarded at the “boarding station” mentioned on your ticket, even though your berth will be reserved in your name between the reservation point to the destination point.

If your boarding station is different from the point of reservation, you cannot board the train at any point before the boarding station, even if you have paid the fare from the reservation point. If you do, you will technically be traveling ticket-less up to your boarding station, for which you are liable to pay charges for.

If you board the train at any station after the boarding station, the TC technically has the power to mark your berth as NT (Not Turned up) and allot it to a RAC candidate. But sometimes, if you have luck on your side, the TC might consider your case, provided you have a convincing explanation to why you boarded after your boarding point. You will not be fined for it though, as long as you have a valid ticket.


Local trains are the lifeline of Mumbai, you know it, I know it, we all know it. Mumbai runs on local trains.

The Mumbai Suburban Railway experiences some of the most severe overcrowding in the world. Over 4,500 passengers are packed into a 9-car rake during peak hours, as against the rated carrying capacity of 1,700, resulting in what is known as Super-Dense Crush Load of 14 to 16 standing passengers per square metre of floor space! (Source: Mumbai Suburban Railway)

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Why? Are there not enough train services?

Yes, there are.

It is spread over 465 km (289 mi), operates 2,342 train services and carries more than 7.5 million commuters daily. By annual ridership (2.64 billion), the Mumbai Suburban Railway is one of the busiest commuter rail systems in the world. The suburban fleet consists of 9, 12 and 15-coach rakes. Trains run from 4 AM until 1 AM, and some trains also run up to 2:30 AM. There is a train every 2-3 minutes.

Putting a limit on passengers boarding a coach is not a solution. For one, how are we going to implement the rule? Have you been on a Mumbai Suburban Railway platform during peak hours? There are hundreds of people around you, equally anxious and anticipating to catch that train and make it to work on time. How are we planning to regulate the crowd? How much manpower are we going to need? Two, putting a limit of say 1,700 passengers (using the stats from above) on a local will mean another 2,800 are going to miss the train. Is there a ready alternative means of transport for these people? No.

So, is there a solution at all?

Yes, there is.

The impending introduction of new higher speed rakes may help address the issue.

Until then, just go with the flow, if you know what I mean. And if you are an outsider, it is advisable not to travel in Mumbai local trains from 7 am to 11 am and 5 pm to 10 pm during weekdays because of overcrowding. Don’t even think about it. :p

For those who still want to experience the “joyride”, refer to this article: How to Ride the Mumbai Local Train.


Update (1 February 2016)

The Virar Local

One does not simply get into a Virar local and expect to get off before Dahisar.

There are three types of railway lines – western, central and harbor. Amongst all these lines, one train has gained extreme popularity and importance. The Virar local. People joke that it’s easier to get into IIT and IIM than getting into a Virar Fast, especially during peak hours.

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Read the 11 Things You Experience When You Travel In Virar Fast. Trust me, the writer Chaitali Pathak isn’t exaggerating. I have heard horrifying accounts of #3 (People don’t let newcomers board the train easily. Sometimes they won’t let the newbies get out on their desired stop. Why? Because they can!”). My dad found himself in the same situation once, when he was new to Mumbai. He wanted to get off at Borivali but they weren’t allowing him. A good Samaritan advised him to keep moving towards the exit, an inch at a time, without attracting attention. Luckily, he was able to jump off the train just before it began to leave the Borivali platform.

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