When you’re in Mumbai, you HAVE to experience a train journey in the Mumbai Suburban Railway, popularly known as Mumbai local train. The mere thought of it can make you shudder, and understandably so. Jam-packed compartments with people even hanging out by their fingertips, train travel is almost a matter of survival here. But trust us, if you want to get around the city, there’s no faster way than these trains.
Also, if you’re looking for cheap cardio, we have a much better option than a gym. Not only will it increase your heart rate but it will also toughen you up. But once you know how to tackle a local train, it is quite entertaining to travel (only some times).
There is absolutely no need for you to sweat because we have compiled the best Mumbai local train guide for you!
Among the oldest railway networks in Asia, it was built by the British East India Company in 1853. The train ran from Bori Bunder (now known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus) to Thane. Originally, it was an experimental line to check whether the British could connect the port of Mumbai with the interior of the country. Today, the Mumbai locals help about more than eight million people to reach their destinations every single day.
The Mumbai local train network connects the entire city and beyond. In the actual sense, it is the lifeline of the city. There are five different lines to the locals; Western, Central, Harbour, Trans-Harbour, and Uran. Among these, the first three are used more commonly for daily commute.
The Western line begins from Churchgate and terminates at Dahanu Road, with most trains terminating at Virar. The route has 37 stops along the way. Some of the significant stops are Mumbai Central, Dadar, Bandra, Andheri, Goregaon, Borivali, and Virar. A lot of these stations connect some of Mumbai’s bustling commercial areas, making the Western line used highly by the office-going crowd.
The Central line starts from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT). Once it reaches Kalyan Junction, the route splits into two: towards Kasara and Khopoli. For those planning on traveling eastward to Nashik, board the train to Kasara. From Khopoli, you can reach Lonavala.
Most fast trains on this route halt at Byculla, Dadar, Kurla, Ghatkopar, Thane, Dombivali, and Kalyan. After Kalyan, all the trains halt at all the stations.
Also starting from CSMT, this route starts off along the city’s harbor; that’s where the name came from. This route goes all the way to Panvel and connects the city with Navi Mumbai. There’s another route in the Harbour Line, which connects CSMT and Goregaon.
It’s a slow line, meaning all the trains stop at all the stations.
The Trans-Harbour line is the link between Thane and Vashi in Navi Mumbai, and also goes all the way to Panvel. The major stations on this route are Thane, Vashi, Sanpada, Nerul, and Panvel.
A relatively new route, services on the Nerul-Uran Line started in 2018. The proposed route connects Nerul and Belapur CBD to the port city of Uran, which helps the development of Navi Mumbai.
Irrespective of the route, all of the Mumbai locals are segregated into four compartments. To be that seasoned Mumbaikar traveler and to avoid getting in trouble with the ticket collectors, you need to know about these compartments!
If you ask any local (not the train, but a living, breathing person), they’ll likely refer to this as the ‘gents’ compartment. Allow us to inform you that there’s no such thing as this! It’s become so because the general compartments are mostly packed with male office-goers.
Goes without saying, anyone can get into this compartment, irrespective of gender. You’re quite likely to encounter few women that get on the general compartment. Why? Because when it comes to train etiquettes, the men are much more compliant than the women. Shocker? We know.
While the ladies are conditioned to be poised in public, the ladies compartment of the local train is where you’ll see them being unapologetically ruthless. During the rush hours, fights are quite a common sight.
But it can be the safer choice if you’re traveling alone and don’t have a companion to accompany you in the general compartment. Out of the four ladies compartments, some of them allow men to enter after 11pm. There are also a few compartments that are 24 hours reserved for the ladies only. A police officer is also stationed in a ladies’ compartment after 9 pm for safety.
For all the women who want to travel in relative comfort, there’s also a Ladies Special train where every compartment is reserved for only the ladies. The frequency of the train may be less, but so is the crowd!
Goes without saying that men aren’t allowed in the Ladies’ compartments!
The fourth and seventh coaches of 12-car trains, as well as the fourth, seventh, and tenth coaches in 15-car trains, are dedicated for Divyangjan (Differently Abled) passengers and cancer patients. Pregnant women who are far along in their pregnancies can also access these compartments.
If you’re carrying heavy baggage (not the emotional kind) that will take up a lot of space in the general compartment, you can always board the luggage compartment. For those with a first class ticket, you can carry up to 50 kgs in the compartment for free. The second class ticket holders can bring 35 kgs worth of luggage for free. Boarding the luggage compartment with no heavy baggage can result in a fine if you get caught.
The compartments are even further classified into different classes. You’d now have to choose if comfort is of more importance to you or money is. Whatever your choice may be, make sure you get on the correct class to avoid trouble that’ll cost you double the ticket prices.
Getting a second class ticket is the most affordable way of traveling in a Mumbai local. The tickets cost literally peanuts (starting from INR 5!). The obvious downside? It can get insanely crowded. And the seats are of hardened plastic, which aren’t the most comfortable to sit on. This doesn’t really matter if you’re traveling short distances. The rush hours are when you might want to keep away from the second class since most people board that coach because of the inexpensive ticket prices.
A ticket for a first class coach will cost you almost 5-7 times more than the second class tickets. Don’t worry, the money is well-spent because you get to enjoy cushioned seats and relatively less crowded trains….
…until the rush hours kick in. Then, there’s barely any difference between the two classes!
The first class coach is marked by red and white lines on the train and even the platform has a marking to indicate where the first class coach arrives upon halt.
If you value comfort over everything else when traveling in a Mumbai local, we recommend that you book an AC train. The frequency of AC trains is rather low, but you can always check for its schedule and coordinate your time accordingly. The tickets are more expensive, but you’ll be saved from the scorching heat and people bumping into you all the time!
There are ticket counters on every station and along with that, there is also the facility for ATVMs (Automatic Ticket Vending Machines) which is self service. You can use UTS at the ATVM or use an issued smart card.
The second class ticket for an adult starts from Rs. 5 and can go up until Rs. 30. They’re extremely affordable. But, if you want to travel in the first class or an AC train, the prices start from Rs. 25 and Rs. 35 respectively and go up to Rs. 145 and Rs. 165 respectively.
Finding your train’s schedule and still reaching the station late only to see the long queue of people stresses you out, don’t worry. Just like everything else, technology has made this easier for you. There are certain apps that will help you navigate the Mumbai local train system a lot better:
m-Indicator is your best friend to navigate the local trains. The app has all the five routes mentioned with detailed train schedules and a tracker to tell you the current position of the train. It does not only help you with trains but all the public transportation like buses, Metro, ferry, and more.
There is also a safety section on the app with emergency contacts and a police station locator.
It even mentions if any trains are delayed or canceled. So, navigating the routes of Mumbai local become a whole lot simpler with this app.
UTS aka Unreserved Ticketing System allows you to book your ticket from the phone. If you don’t want to stand in long queues because you’re in a rush or you simply don’t like queues, you can download UTS.
The app lets you decide between a paperless ticket (e-ticket) and a paper print ticket. Once you select that option, you can then pick your starting and ending destination and get your fare. To pay, you can use the R-Wallet or UPI.
Yatri is another app very similar to m-Indicator that gives you the live location of the train. It also provides the users with the latest, updated timetable of trains, metro, and the monorail. The app also announces mega blocks so you can plan your journey better.
Now that you’re on the railway station, it can be a sensory overload. There’s so many things to factor in so that you end up on the right train. So how do you go on about it?
Every railway station has an indicator board, but in most cases, it’ll have abbreviations and terms you may be unfamiliar with. Let’s take you through them:
The station code is written either a single or double-letter code that denotes the train’s destination. For example, ‘V’ stands for Virar and the ‘BY’ stands for Bhayandar. A word of caution though! The codes don’t necessarily use the same letters as the station names, like how ‘BS’ actually stands for Vasai Road and ‘N’ stands for Kasara.
Pretty self-explanatory; this section of the board shows the time the train is scheduled to arrive or depart. The trains are usually at least a couple of minutes late and the frequency of trains are good. But if you have a specific train to board, we recommend you reach at least 10 minutes beforehand!
Mumbai local trains are either fast or slow. It doesn’t have anything to do with the kmph, however. A slow train halts at every station along the route. On the other hand, a fast train only stops at important stations. It may not sound like much, but a fast train can save you around 15-20 minutes of commute time.
Depending on the route you’re taking and the station you want to get down at, you can make a decision on which train would be the best for you.
Again, it’s stating the obvious. This section shows how many minutes before the train arrives. A good idea would be to be on the right platform when the board shows 04 or lower. The trains halt for only about 20 seconds, so you want to be quick on your feet!
Your train is arriving at the station. You see people bracing themselves, preparing for the fight that is to come. You wait for the train to stop before getting in, and that’s where you made your first mistake!
We’ll never condone it, but the best way to get into a Mumbai local train is when it’s just about to stop. Sure, the rule is to allow passengers to alight first. But do the people care? No! Just remember to run in the direction the train is moving or you’ll find yourself flat on your back.
Push! Wave goodbye to being a nice person and use all your strength to push people around in a crowded train. Not always will the situation call for it, but in a crowded train, pushing is the best way to ensure you can move inside or get off the train. A good idea will be to have at least one person behind you; it’s just a bit safer.
Even in a peak hour Mumbai local, there’s some order in the chaos. You may not realize it, but there are two distinct queues – one for getting on and the other for getting off. Ask the people ahead of you if they’re going to get off before or after you. If you need to get down sooner, politely ask them to give you way and squeeze ahead.
If you’re already seated, you should also get up 3-4 stations before the actual station you want to get during rush hours.
You’re nearly at the end of your journey/ordeal and your destination is arriving. The safest way to get down the train is by waiting for it to halt completely. Not in Mumbai! Face the direction the train is moving and get off when it slows down considerably. Remember Newton’s first law of motion and keep jogging for a bit once you’re on the platform to avoid toppling over. And voila! You’ve just survived your first ever Mumbai local train journey!
If you want to speak and act like a fluent Mumbaikar who’s used to daily local travel, there are some unspoken rules that you have to follow and remember.
While the train seats are made to accommodate only three people, everybody knows that there is a thing known as the ‘fourth seat’. There’s barely any space, but after a tiring day, you’d likely take anything you get, even if it’s not the most comfortable.
Remember that the concept of a fourth seat only exists in the second class coaches. Ask for it in a first class coach, you’d get some frowns! Let’s be honest, nobody would want to sit in a cramped space after buying an expensive ticket.
Whenever traveling in a Mumbai local train, keep your bag in the front. Not only is it convenient for everyone, but also ensures you have an eye on your things and nobody can pickpocket you. Plus, it is easier to get on and off with your bag in the front than the back.
A lot of the time people who don’t want to get down at your station might be standing in front of you. Politely ask them if they’re getting down; if they’re not, you can move ahead of them towards the doors. This is especially important during the rush hours because the trains can get really crowded. So even if the person ahead of you wants to move out of the way, they may be unable to do so.
You cannot practice the ‘no man left behind’ attitude in the Mumbai local trains. If you’re boarding the train from one station and your friend is getting on from the next one, you cannot save a seat for them. First come first serve!
While the Mumbai locals look intimidating, being alert and mindful is all it takes to become a successful local train traveler. Once you get used to the crowd, it is actually quite fun to travel in the local train.
The best part is that while the crowd is overwhelming, you’ll always manage to find at least one person who will help and guide you if you ask. So, it really is a one-of-a-kind experience that you shouldn’t miss out on if you don’t want to spend too much time or money for commuting.
When you’re standing at the station watching the crowd move, you’ll realize that the local trains are actually the pulse of Mumbai city. So get on a Mumbai local train and you’ll be in for something memorable!
What Is An Interesting Fact About Mumbai Local Trains?
The very first train to be introduced on April 16th, 1853 took a round of an hour and half and rode between CST (previously known as Bori Bunder) to Thane, with a halt at Sion to refuel the water tanks.
What Are The Problems Faced by Mumbai Local Train Commuters?
Due to the excess crowd, the ventilation is very poor and it can get very claustrophobic. Also, the overcrowding results in people having to hang out the doors, risking their lives.
Is Mumbai Local Always Crowded?
Not always. Early mornings and afternoons are the best time to travel in trains are less crowded and you can easily find a seat to sit.
How Many People Use Local Trains Daily?
The estimated number is 61.95 lakh people riding the Mumbai locals daily. And about 2.261 billion people commute annually.
Where Is the Ladies First Class Located In The Mumbai Local Train?
There are two ladies first class coaches which are at either ends of the local train.
How Can One Avoid The Rush Hours?
If you’re not much of a crowd person and want to keep away from the peak hour rush, the best time for you to travel is from 11 am to 4 pm.