Mumbai( Bombay) transportation system was launched during the days of the Raj and the first train ran in 1861 between Bombay VT and Thane. In 1914, the suburban track was electrified but for the next 100 years precious little was done to upgrade the suburban rail system.

The railway board catering to the demand for a high speed local from Churchgate to Dahanu set up a research project to manufacture a high-speed train. It was expected the train would ply at 160 km an hour like the Gatiman express. The Mid-Day news has now reported that the train tests failed and now the train is just idling away at the railway sheds at Virar.

In short, the railways in response to an RTI query, have admitted the project was a failure.

Mumbai suburban rail

The Mumbai suburban rail system is among the oldest in the world but it is antiquated and needs an overhaul. The trains on the suburban system run at 80 km an hour and compared to modern rapid rail transit systems in other cities are slow. The new faster local was supposed to make travel quicker. It was expected that the running time from Churchgate to Dahanu would be cut by at least 25 to 30 minutes. The Times has reported that the train during test runs never reached beyond 140 km an hour and overall there were issues of stability. This has been traced to a fault in design. The Railway has confirmed that RS 60 crore was spent on the project and they have shelved the project for the high-speed local train project.

Mumbai's urban transport system is among the most choked in the world and many times passengers hang onto the footboard of the trains to travel. Yesterday, the Hindustan times confirmed that every day at least nine commuters die while traveling on the local trains.

High-speed projects

The railways are going ahead with other projects and the Modi government has signed a deal with Japan for a bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

The railways have also imported coaches from Spain for rums between Mumbai and Delhi at speeds of 120 km an hour. These do not compare with the rapid transit system of China which has offered technology for a bullet train to India as well. Though the Chinese offer was cheaper, political expediency has made the Modi government opt for the Japanese offer.


Mumbai and Calcutta suburban rail systems however desperately need an overhaul. These two cities are also the most populated in the country. The entire suburban rail system needs to be upgraded. But with the failure of the high-speed suburban rail, Mumbai commuters will have to wait for something better to come up. This is sad as Mumbai is an amazing place.