Railway Board has approved the procurement of 238 Vande Metro coaches for the upgradation of Mumbai’s suburban local train network by Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC). MRVC is a 50-50 joint venture between the Maharashtra government and the Ministry of Railways.
Indian Railways is set to launch Vande Metro, a variant of the Vande Bharat, by the end of current year.
Procurement to be Made Under MUTP-III & MUTP-3A Projects
Aforementioned procurement will be made by the MRVC under Mumbai Urban Transport Project-III (MUTP-III) and MUTP-3A projects.
Speaking about the to-be-procured Vande Metro trains, an MRVC spokesperson said, “These trains will be manufactured by the technology partner ensuring Make in India guidelines of the Centre’s Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade. The procurement will be undertaken by MRVC and it will be with maintenance requirements spanning 35 years”.
MUTP-III and MUTP-3A to be Executed at a total Cost of 44,637 Cr., to Strengthen Mumbai’s Suburban Transport Network
As per MVRA, MUTP-III and MUTP-3A projects are directed towards streamlining travel in Mumbai’s suburban areas and enhancing their connectivity to the city. MUTP-III project has an estimated cost of development of Rs. 10,947 crore, while MUTP-3A will be executed at a cost of about Rs. 33,690 crore.
These projects involve construction of additional corridors, upgradation of existing infrastructure, and procurement and maintenance of rolling stock to streamline Mumbai’s suburban transportation system. Further, these projects also target enhanced connectivity of Mumbai’s suburbs with Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
Vande Metro Designed to Ply on Intercity Routes up to 100 Km in Length
Vande Metro was first announced after the presentation of the 2023-24 Union Budget. This variant of the Vande Bharat is being designed by Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai, and Research Design and Standard Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow to connect cities that are at a maximum distance of 100 Km.
Vande Metro trains are being designed to run at about 130 Kmph, and like Vande Bharat, will receive traction power via 25 KV Overhead Equipment (OHE). Each of these trains will have 8 to 12 coaches.
While introducing these trains in February 2023, Union Railways Minister, Mr. Ashwini Vaishnaw said, “The Vande Metro, a mini version of the Vande Bharat Express trains, will be developed by the Indian Railways for people living around big cities to travel to and fro in comfort between their place of work and hometowns.” He further stated that the design and manufacturing of the first prototype Vande Bharat Metro is expected to be finished by the end of 2023 and by the end of next financial year the production of these trains would be ramped up.
These trains will function in addition to Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS), which is being developed to connect the National Capital Region (NCR) to nearby cities.
While RRTS involves the development of new infrastructure from scratch, Vande Metro will ply on existing tracks and will utilise existing facilities.
Travel in Mumbai Suburban Network to be Safer
As per Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation’s website, the Mumbai Suburban network has a daily passenger load exceeding 8 million. Infamous for being excessively crowded, the term ‘super dense crush load’ was coined to describe heavy passenger density of about 14-16 people per square meter during peak travel hours in the Mumbai Local trains.
Further, a September 2019 report by the Asian Development Bank states that each Mumbai Local train carries about 5,000 passengers against its design capacity of 1,750 passengers, and this overcrowding results in about 3,000 fatalities per year.
Therefore, the acquisition of Vande Metro trains falling under the aforementioned projects is expected to make commute in the region not only more convenient but also safer.