Make In India could make railway commute better for Mumbaikars

Rail officials want to speak to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu about the Virar-Diva-Panvel line and a Communication-Based Train Control system, when he attends the Make in India event

When Union Minister for Railways, Suresh Prabhu, attends the Make In India event chaired by PM Narendra Modi, rail officials want to use the opportunity to apprise him of two projects to better Mumbai’s railway system.

The first project will connect the Western and Central lines including the Harbour line without people having to change the trains. File picture for representation
The first project will connect the Western and Central lines including the Harbour line without people having to change the trains. File picture for representation

All eyes are on the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP)-3 where there is scope of a fare hike in suburban rail tariffs; and the extension of railway lines in Mumbai Metropolitan Region is being discussed, and waiting for approvals. Railway officials here have submitted the two vital rail projects that can actually make some difference in the development of Mumbai’s railway system. The timing is crucial as Prabhu will present the annual Railway Budget on February 25.

The first one is the Virar-Vasai-Diva-Panvel suburban rail line, and second is the Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) system that is meant to ensure smoother running of trains. Sources in the railways said that they have submitted details of these two projects to the Railway Board in Delhi for this year's railway budget. Suresh Prabhu in July 2015 had asked railway authorities here to work on MUTP-4 projects.

“We have sent these two projects for Mumbai that are part of MUTP-4,” said a senior railway official. The first one will connect Western and Central lines including the Harbour line without people having to change the trains. At present people can interchange rail routes at Dadar, Kurla, Mahim and Wadala.

Officials agreed that with growing number of people - who have mainly migrated to farther suburbs between Borivli and Virar on the WR, beyond Vashi on Harbour and between Kalyan and Kasara/Karjat on the Main line of CR - there is a need for rail lines connecting the east to the west. Even the MUTP-3 project concentrates on quadrupling of Virar-Dahanu route, doubling of Panvel-Karjat route and new Airoli-Kalwa elevated rail line.

The CBTC system is simply where the signalling system will be placed inside the local train instead of on signal poles. “Currently after a distance of 400 metres there is a signal pole. But with CBTC these poles will get eliminated and distance between two trains will depend on their internal system,” explained a railway official.

This first-of-its-kind implementation is being proposed for the CST-Panvel and Panvel-Thane Harbour and Trans-Harbour lines. The system is unique as it will calculate and analyse the location and distance of each train in front, and also determine speed of the train and when to apply brakes, which could be a boon during peak hours as the headway (gap between two trains) can be reduced to two minutes instead of five minutes, which will enable to run many more trains.

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