A proposal for the much required east-west rail connectivity is back on the table after the state government asked the Indian Railways to undertake new suburban corridors to connect all three railway lines — western, central and harbour. As part of the third phase of Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP-3), five different rail corridors are what the state government wants the railways to develop.
The proposed corridors are Virar-Vasai-Diva-Panvel, Virar-Dahanu-Gholvad, Panvel- Karjat-Khopoli, Thane-Bhivandi and Pen-Alibaug. Together, they are estimated to cost around Rs 14,660 crore, while covering over 150 km of rail lines.
Until recently no specific projects were included in MUTP-3 as both the state and the railways here were unsure of the way ahead. “Now the state has shown interest in these projects and we will undertake the necessary work,” said Prabhat Ranjan, chief public relations officer, Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), a joint venture between the railways and state government.
The first of these lines connects Virar with Panvel, one of the main segments of the project, which will facilitate cross-travel for thousands of commuters on all three lines, who otherwise have to come all the way to Dadar or Kurla to catch intersecting trains. The 60-km stretch of Virar-Dahanu, which is expected to start operations from March 28, is to get two more lines, specially meant for suburban trains.
The Panvel-Karjat-Khopoli route entails another railway line between Karjat and Khopoli, which at present has a single corridor that is not meant for suburban local trains. The Thane-Bhivandi corridor will be a new one that will connect the two most important industrial areas up north of the city.
Presently, there is the Vasai-Diva-Panvel line that is meant for long-distance trains. For long, the state and railways were unable to come to a decision on the funding of the 28-km long Pen-Alibaug corridor. Railways officials, however, claim that a strategy has been forged to propose a separate suburban corridor, with Panvel station as a hub for this corridor.
“The state government has written to the railway ministry to look into these projects. They have agreed to share the project cost in a 50:50 ratio,” said a senior official from MRVC. Only a week back Union Rail Minister P K Bansal mentioned taking up these projects.
Officials will now carry out technical feasibility studies and make cost estimates for these projects. Sources said that proper announcement for allotting budget for these projects will be taken up by October or so.
Proposed links for east-west connectivity in the Mumbai metropolitan region
Number of new rail lines: 5
Cost of the projects: Rs 14,660 crore
Track length to be added: 150-odd kms