The Rail Line


The Tank


The Rail Line

Life In Chembur

Winds of Change



Chembur was not a part of the city until 1948-49. The only links with the city were through a rail line up to Kurla and a small narrow road through Chunabatti going to Sion. The single line from Kurla to Chembur was laid in 1906 for garbage clearance. The line was opened for passenger traffic on 4th December 1924.  The train on this line with four conventional wooden bogies (with toilets) hauled by a steam engine would ply every one-hour between Kurla and Mankhurd. There was no train service on this line after 10 pm. Occasionally a goods train with about 10 bogies would pass through late in the night to transport goods largely meant for the naval stores depot at Mankhurd. Few people traveled by this train it being only half occupied. Most passengers knew each other personally. When the train at Kurla was missed, one had to wait for an hour sipping    tea at the stall on platform no. 8.


It was a hilarious scene in the early mornings to see the fisherwomen with large baskets of fish traveling from Mankhurd to Kurla and then on to Victoria Terminus or Byculla! This train plied up to Kurla on platform No. 9. The engine would be detached from the train and be attached to the other end for its journey to Mankhurd. The engine would again be detached at Mankhurd and attached to the Kurla-end! People at Chembur would get ready to go the station after hearing the engine whistle whilst the train started the journey at Mankhurd! Often, the driver would wait a few minutes at Chembur station for passengers! The station was originally behind the present day Shivalaya market and hence the road opposite the then station was numbered as road No. 1. There was only one low level platform and had no tea stall or bookstall. About 10-15 people would alight from the train during the evening. The noise of the engine could be heard in Chembur as soon as the train left Kurla or Mankhurd.


An interesting practice of the railways and the municipality may be mentioned at this juncture. The garbage of Bombay city was dumped in the garbage railway yard at Mahalakshmi on the BB&CR (today’s Western Railway; the Central Railway was earlier known as the Great Indian Peninsular Railway). The garbage would then be loaded in grey-coloured open wagons to be transported to the garbage dumping ground at Deonar near Govandi. This garbage train would go at slow speed and pass through Chembur in midday about 1 p.m. leaving behind its obnoxious stench that lasted even 10 minutes after the train had passed. The train was hauled by a small diesel engine. The slow return journey from Deonar would begin at 3 p.m. In a lighter vein, it can be said that the garbage of Bombay was thrown in the neighboring village of Chembur!!


It was a thrill to travel by the steam engine train chugging to Kurla and from there by electric local to Dadar or Victoria Terminus to visit friends or shopping or sightseeing. The children would be dressed in clean cotton clothes on such trips much to the envy of the kids in the neighbourhood.


The steam engine era ended in 1952 with the introduction of the electric local train between Kurla and Mankhurd. Electric traction on the Kurla-Mankhurd service was introduced on 11th May 1952. Doubling of the track between Kurla and Mankhurd was completed on 18th September 1959. The electric local had four coaches. The composite First class and ladies compartment was at the VT end and the remaining three third class coaches behind the First class coach. There was no second-class coach in the local. The First class coach had spacious seats, which could be adjusted, in the direction the train went or the opposite direction as desired. Later the train service was extended to Victoria Terminus via the harbor line and   number   of coaches increased to six.