This won’t be a wrong statement that local trains, which come under western railways, are lifelines of this hustling-bustling or I should say India’s most populated city – Mumbai. Unlike other metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai stretches more in North-South direction and covers less area from east to west. There is a wide network of these trains stretched out not only in the vicinity but also to the neighbouring areas.
Mumbai’s local train network is divided in three main lines- Western, Central and Harbour lines. Western lines run from Virar to Churchgate, Central from Kalyan to Chhtrapati Shivaji Terminus (also known as Victoria Terminus) and Harbour line runs from Victoria Terminus to Vadala.
Train has various sections, First class (unisexual), Second class (unisexual) and a special dabba (coach) for the handicaps. There are special coaches for females (class divided). First class (unisexual) has red stripes as markings, handicap coaches has clear written words whereas for the female coaches they are marked with the green stripes.
Ticket costs around Rs. 105 for the first class and only Rs. 10 for the second class. I guess this is the main reason why there is a difference between the number of people in both the coaches. The second class has something where crowd will push you in and out of the train. It was like as if you just have to stand there, “lawkar”- people will scream and you will be pushed out !
On the very first day, unaware about the dabba classification, I bought a first class ticket from Andheri to Churchgate and immediately got aware of the classification which existed. On this side of the bars was I sitting comfortably in first class whereas on the other side was second class where people were hanging on the doors. After burning a few holes in my pocket, I decided to travel through second class. Trust me, it wasn’t the best experience I have had recently. What I observed (even in the empty coaches) was that there was something , some kind of energy which attracts people to look outside from the train while travelling. As a matter of fact, that’s why they lose their lives travelling while hanging on the doors.
I learned a lot after getting into these trains. Getting on and off from the them is a big task, herculean I must say… and how to reach home safely not only teaches you about how to survive in this cosmopolitan and never sleeping city but also makes one strong and introduce you to the ground realities.