Though my own experiences of travelling in Mumbai’s suburban trains popularly known as the “Locals” have been harrowing to say the least with crowds swarming you from all sides, my wife still misses them here in our quaint scenic destination of Udaipur which we call our home. So, when I had to write an article for My Destination Mumbai on the Locals, I knew I needed some expert advice.
Thus, presenting to you a top 5 of dos and don’t while travelling in the Mumbai locals as written for mydestination.com with little changes here and there.
Top 5 Mantras for boarding a Mumbai Local
If you are claustrophobic, then the crowded Mumbai Suburban trains could be the last place you would like to be in the city. With 6.1 million commuters travelling every day on the Suburban trains popularly known as “Locals”, the network arguably has the highest passenger density anywhere in the world.
The Mumbai Suburban Railway is in fact the oldest railways in Asia having been in operation since 1847 and operates three lines, the Central Line, the Harbor Line and the Western Line that connect the city of Mumbai and its suburbs.
To say that the “Locals” are the lifeline of Mumbai would not be an exaggeration and if one does not travel on them, then one would surely be missing out on an experience that exhilarates & enlivens the essence of the Maximum City and showcases the resilience of its people in the quest for a better tomorrow against all odds. The touch, the smell and the sights that you encounter on a local are things to behold and cherish, for life.
In the following paragraphs, presenting to you a top 5 mantras for boarding a suburban train.
1) Choose your “lines’ well- The locals ply on 3 lines, the Western, Central and Harbor lines. The first starts from Churchgate and the latter two from Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). Thus, you need to be certain about which line your destination falls on. Though the Western and Central lines meet at Dadar and Harbor and Central lines meet at Kurla, it’s better to read between the proverbial “lines” before boarding a Mumbai Suburban Train as CST and Churchgate stations are quite nearby and its always better to go in for a terminal boarding to save you from mid journey hassles..
2) Fast or slow, it better be the right choice baby!- The suburban railway system of Mumbai on all the three lines have “fast” and “slow” trains that stop at designated stations. The fast trains only stop at stations which are the major districts/areas of the city with maximum influx of commuters and which have importance as key points of Mumbai. So, if you board a “fast local” it would not stop at all the stations on a particular route. So, God forbid, if your particular destination is designated as “slow” and you board a fast train thinking it would lead you to your destination faster, you are in for a “slow” trouble.
Slow trains on the other hand stop at all the stations on the route, so if you are in a hurry to reach a destination designated “fast” and board a slow train, then you are in for a long haul. 😦
3) Smart cards/Coupons to jump the ticket queue- Seeing long queues at the ticket counters of the stations, if you are a person for whom laying down arms and beating a hasty retreat is an appealing option then getting a smart card or a bunch of coupons could just be the thing that might lessen your urge to quit. When you are in the city for a short trip and have to commute on the locals, smart cards and coupons which are available at all stations are a wonderful way to jump long queues
4) An empty coach could be too good to be true-You see a comparatively empty coach in an otherwise crowded local, better not board it. It would in all probability be a coach reserved for the physically challenged. If you board such a compartment thinking it to be your lucky day, the emergence of the Ticket Collector would be enough to dispell any notions of luck.
5) When in a crowd, enjoy it- Try to avoid boarding a local during office rush hours especially from morning 8.30 am to 10 am and evening 7 pm to 9.30 pm, it really is crowded. But in case you cannot avoid it, then the best and only thing to do is to enjoy the crowd that encompasses you.
It provides you a great opportunity to try to soak in the colorful chit chats, sights and way of life of the common “Mumbaikar” commuting on the lifeline of Mumbai, the Mumbai Local!