It took almost a century for the whole of India to have a railway system after it was first introduced from Bombay (now Mumbai) to Thane. This train ran on a steam engine. Modern trains in cities like Mumbai now work on electricity and long-journey trains on diesel.
The ones that run on electricity have a Railway electrification system. These systems are classified according to their voltage, type of current and contact system. The classification via current was the point of debate for the Mumbai Metro trains. When classified according to current, these systems fall under two modes: Direct Current (DC) and Alternating Current (AC).
A top-ranking official of the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) has warned of a number of pitfalls if the Mumbai Metro goes ahead with its plan to use 25kV power traction, saying it could be dangerous for buildings close to the Metro line and a hazard during the monsoon. [….] Khade goes on to say DC is the preferred mode, and that 97 per cent of metros around the world run on it. […] In fact in DC, the weight of trains is lower, leading to higher pick-up speeds, lower power requirements and a lighter load on the elevated structure. – MM
As we can see, DC trains are more energy efficient and safe, among other advantages over AC trains. It is a mode of choice for shorter routes like the one I was on (11.40 km). Why did the government go with the AC mode? I have no idea.
Green Promise from the Mumbai Metro:
Mumbai Metro has (or will have) a water recycling plant. The water which will be used to wash the rakes will be recycled and reused everyday.
Greener rides across the country:
While the Mumbai Metro has its own water recycling plant, other trains in India are solar powered. The world’s second solar powered train is the Shivalik Express. Other green initiatives taken by Indian railways are:
- First green railway station in India
- Solar powered Gurgaon station
- Solar toy train – Himalayan Queen
- Air-conditioned solar powered trains
- Solar trains in Delhi
One fine morning, my school tutor invites me for a ride on the Metro train. Last minute plans often don’t leave us time to do our homework. Together we arrive at Andheri station post lunch hours. We struggle to find the Metro. I start to lookup for some information on the internet and my tutor decides to ask people around. At first we take the usual train ticket to Ghatkopar (the end of the Versova-Ghatkopar corridor). We realize we have wasted money on the ticket because the Metro has a coin system. Counters to get these coins are surrounded by serpentine queues. Among the crowd are people who think it is fair to break the line or ask for strangers to buy them a ticket. Thanks to the authorities, such people are kept at bay. Some counters break down due to overload. Authorities are quick at mending them. As my tutor and I discuss about the whole scenario, we find that many of these people are out for a joyride too.
We are excited and seeing the crowd my tutor is a little overwhelmed. I keep her close until we get inside. People around are as terrified as they are when they try to get into the usual Mumbai local. We plunge and get in. Air conditioning is not able to catch up with the number of people inside. The atmosphere outside is hot and humid. With that, I suggest my tutor that we get down as quickly as possible. She wants to explore more though. Her excitement is not subdued by the conditions inside. As we inquire more about the journey to other passengers, we end up talking to a pair of a mother and a daughter. The mother happens to be a writer who suggests that we enjoy the joyride until the destination arrives. (I couldn’t catch her name but if she is reading this: ‘Hello again!’. ) We finally decide to stay. Andheri to Ghatkopar is not a long journey anyway.
I stand near the door and so I don’t even know how the seats look like. I take a picture of the indicators and the map. The automated voices in the train that advise passengers are both male and female. I notice they speak English and Hindi. May be I missed the part where they spoke in Marathi.
Why is this train called a Metro? It ain’t underground to call it one. But this is just one of the many routes where Mumbai will have a Metro. The two other routes (Metro II and Metro III) are going to be underground and its budget has recently been approved. This journey reminds me of a song.
The Metro railway opened on 8th June, around 20 days ago. I feel guilty for having inconvenienced those passengers who weren’t explorers like us. To these people, I apologize. I don’t plan to use the Monorail this way. Unlike my tutor, I wanted to write about this journey and learn more about railway systems and I have. If you’ve traveled by this train too, please feel free to share your experience with us. Or you can tell us if you know why the government decided to run these on AC mode.