Mumbai’s local railway is aptly nicknamed the “lifeline of the city.” Mumbai is one of the densest cities in the world and the trains are its saving grace, transporting a staggering 6.9 million people per day. Trains can get so overcrowded during peak hours that it is common to have 14-16 people per square meter. If this sounds intimidating, don’t worry, after reading this guide you will have all the information to conquer the Mumbai local trains.
Overview of Train Lines
Mumbai has 3 major train lines that run north and south and there is a brand new metro line in the northern suburbs as well as a limited monorail line in eastern Mumbai. In this post we are going to focus on the “Western Line” as this contains most of the points of interest for travellers. The Western Line is red in the map below and starts in the South from Churchgate Station.
You’re reading this article so you’re off to a good start. Before you leave your internet sanctuary do a little research on the route. Note down your stop, how many stops you’re travelling, your destination station and the station before your destination. You can use the map above for this planning. If you have a smartphone with internet you can also use the app linked below. But don’t rely on this! Often my handwritten notes beat my friend’s smartphone that is desperately searching for connectivity.
Carefully choose when to go. In general, the peak hours ( 9-10:30am and 6-8pm) should be avoided unless you would like a free body massage, as our guides like to joke. In particular, avoid going South in the morning (when everyone is going to work) and North in the evening (when everyone is headed home).
When you enter the station, search for the ticket windows which are usually indicated by large crowds of people. Below is a picture of the ticket windows at Churchgate station. Technically, each ticket window has two lines: one for second class tickets (to the right) and one for first class tickets (to the left). This means if there is a long line and you feel up to it, you can walk right up to the front, elbow your way in and buy a first class ticket and no one will bat an eye. Seriously.