Mr. Railway Minister, why are your Mumbai plans so confusing?
A day after the BJP lost miserably in Bihar, the top leaders of the government at the Centre made some face-saving announcements. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted about development initiatives, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announced the revival of elevated rail corridors for Mumbai.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu at Borivli railway station yesterday for the inauguration of a new Foot Over Bridge. Pic/Nimesh Dave
This has left railway officials confused, as at present the two elevated corridors that have been mooted for years now have either been kept in cold storage or are on the drawing board. On November 9, Prabhu seemed proud of the achievements he had made as railway minister.
He said that 103 budget announcements had already been completed. While inaugurating the new foot-over bridge at Borivli station, he also announced the need for elevated rail corridors in Mumbai.
However, this announcement has left railway officials baffled, as there are many hurdles surrounding the existing plans. “We will have to check how the existing plans can be revived. Over the last few months, they have been in cold storage,” said a senior railway official on condition of anonymity.
Railway officials agreed that with the Maharashtra government showing little interest in the elevated rail corridors, they didn’t expect its inclusion in the plans for Mumbai. For over five years now, the state government and Indian Railways have been sparring over which multi-crore project the city should get.
“After the announcement, we will now have to review the elevated rail corridors depending on the revised transport plans,” said another railway official. The state government also conducted bhoomi pujan of the Rs 23,000 crore Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ Metro rail at the hands of PM Narendra Modi earlier this year.
The whole argument between the state and central governments was that the elevated rail line and Metro rail would have similar alignment that would only escalate the costs unnecessarily.
Fast corridor in limbo
>> The elevated CST-Panvel fast corridor is also more or less on the drawing board.
>> The plans for this R14,000-crore elevated line is stumbling frequently due to want of land for the alignment.
>> This 49-km long rail line is also meant to connect the proposed Navi Mumbai airport.
>> This project has been on the drawing board for long and has seen several changes in the alignment. The latest takes the route away towards Ballard Pier from Sandhurst Road station on port land.
Railway Minister’s plan of action
>> AC locals: It was supposed to make its debut by October-November but has still not made an entry. Coaches are being manufactured at ICF Chennai and the locals are expected to come in by mid-2016.
>> 12-car train on Harbour line: The work is expected to be completed by March 2016. It is being implemented between CST and Mankhurd beyond which (towards Panvel) platforms are already long enough to accommodate 12-car trains.
>> MUTP-3: It has now been forwarded to NITI Aayog and after this, the R10,000 crore project will get approved. It includes the Virar-Dahanu expansion, Panvel-Karjat suburban line, elevated Airoli-Kalwa connector and trespass control for a few select suburban stations.
Rs 21,000 cr
Estimated cost of Churchgate-Virar elevated line
Rs 15,000 cr
Estimated cost of Andheri-Virar elevated line*
*(Terminated due to the third Metro line of Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ)