The Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) has begun preliminary work towards implementation of the Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) system on the Mumbai suburban network.

The CBTC is a signalling system which will improve the efficiency and safety of operations. The project is a part of Rs 33,690 crore Mumbai Urban Transport Project 3A (MUTP 3A).

The project has been proposed to be implement on the slow and fast corridors on the Western Railway between Churchgate and Virar. It will also be carried out on slow and fast corridors between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and Kalyan, and for Harbour and Trans-Harbour Lines.

To go ahead with the plan, MRVC also floated tenders to appoint general consultants for the Rs 5,900 crore project, who will assist the MRVC in selecting the contractor.

The project aims to improve the frequency, thus reducing overcrowding on trains. At present, trains on an average run at a peak frequency of around 3.5 minutes. After implementation of the project, this will be brought down to around 2.5 minutes.

The services will be increased to 20-22 during peak hours from the present 15-17 services after CBTC comes into effect.

The system can also potentially allow driverless operations of local trains. The signalling technology is currently being implemented across all Metro corridors in the country.

The Harbour and Trans-Harbour Lines will be taken up first for implementation as there are no long-distance passenger trains or goods trains sharing space with local trains on those corridors.

While on Metro corridors, the CBTC system is being implemented at the time of construction, the project in the suburban railway network will be required to be executed while operations are underway.

Also, solutions will needed to be figured out as long-distance trains and goods trains run on the same tracks along with suburban trains.

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