Facts About Mumbai's Unique Local Train System

© Aditya Akhauri
© Aditya Akhauri
Photo of Sucheta Thakur
29 September 2016

Aptly called the “Lifeline of Mumbai,” it is very difficult to imagine the city without the local trains that traverse its various neighborhoods. Mumbai’s public rail network allows an individual to travel across the length and breadth of the city with extreme ease and efficiency. Here are nine reasons that make this train system unique.


It is the oldest railway system in Asia, launching April 16, 1853, with the first train taking a one-and-a-half hour journey between CST (then Bori Bunder) to Thane, with a halt at Sion to refuel.


It has one of the most outdated electric rail system in the world. The Mumbai rails still run on electricity transmitted through overhead wires instead of a third rail.

Over-Crowded Capacity

Mumbai local trains are optimized to carry an average of 1,700 people per journey, but in actuality a train will carry almost 5,000 on average during peak hours (this fact is termed as Super Dense Crush Load). With a total of 7.5 million people in 2,342 trains that run daily, that means 2.7 billion people use the trains every year.

The Mumbai local at work | © Rajarshi Mitra / Flickr

Trains Run Non-Stop

The engines of the Mumbai local have a short rest period. They will only stop working for 3-4 hours per engine because the Mumbai locals remain closed for a period of just 90 minutes per day. This makes it the busiest public transportation system in the world.


The Mumbai railway is the cheapest mode of transport in the city. Not only is the network spread across 465 kilometers, but the most expensive ticket only costs 30 Rupees (roughly 50 cents USD).

They Feed the City

Without the Mumbai locals, most of the city would go hungry. The efficient and world famous dabbawala system of delivering food in Mumbai primarily relies on the Mumbai local trains.

Rush hour | © Rajarshi Mitra / Flickr

Ghost Stations

Those traveling to Borivili on a daily basis would be aware of an invisible station called Thambewali that comes between Kandivali and Borivili station. While not an official stop, every train stops for a few minutes and people do get off the train here. (Every single train stopping here … sounds spooky, doesn’t it?)

Historical Traditions

For some reason, the first ladies coach near the motorman’s coach is called the Video Coach (maybe because of the small window between the ladies and gents compartments).

Commuters boarding and alighting | © Rajarshi Mitra / Flickr


The Mumbai local trains are unbeatable and unstoppable under any circumstances. Even when they were attacked on July, 11, 2006, the system kept operating. Despite the serial blasts that threatened to paralyze the locals, the trains were still functional to a certain extent and were fully functional within 16 hours.

Cookies Policy

We and our partners use cookies to better understand your needs, improve performance and provide you with personalised content and advertisements. To allow us to provide a better and more tailored experience please click "OK"