World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva had a taste of the fabled Mumbai local trains this morning as she hopped onto one to commute between Churchgate and Dadar — two of the most vibrant stations in India’s largest metropolis.
Georgieva, who’s on a two-day visit to the country, was accompanied by World Bank officials, according to a statement.
Mumbai local trains are among the busiest in the world, ferrying more than 8 million commuters every day. They’ve been celebrated in popular culture, most notably in Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire.
Remember the famous train scene?
Georgieva’s keenness to understand the city’s lifeline stems from World Bank’s association with the Mumbai Urban Transport Project, which has recently completed its second phase.
The project has helped introduce new trains with higher speeds, better suspension systems, improved interiors, and a better ventilation system. The new trains have reduced energy consumption by 30%, the World Bank states.
“To meet the aspirations of Mumbaikars, some of whom I met today, the city will have to make massive investments in transport infrastructure. These investments will enable commuters to access more comfortable, safer and efficient services,” Georgieva said.
The CEO reportedly engaged in conversations with railway officials, women travelers and police officers who informed her of their daily struggles and suggested ways to improve the rail system.
“I feel privileged that World Bank supports the Mumbai commuter rail. From my understanding, speaking to women on the train today, the leadership wants an enjoyable experience, women have positive words to say, and safety is a big concern,” Georgieva told The Hindu.
She went on to visit Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum and home to more than a million people. The World Bank supports the government-run Dharavi Transit Camp School in the area that imparts education to more than 5,000 children in 5 languages.
Meeting with the children, parents and teachers, Georgieva said, “I am very happy to see how even in a difficult informal settlement, the government has moved towards inclusion by delivering services to the most vulnerable.”