Will the Harbour line get a fast corridor under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s approval of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the railway sector? Though the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST)-Panvel Fast Corridor on this line has not been approved by the Indian Railways, officials say there is a possibility of getting the Rs 14,000-crore project on track under this scheme.
Planning it big: The Railways propose to run 8-car air-conditioned trains on the CST-Panvel fast corridor. File pic for representaion
“The idea is good as availability of government land is not much of a problem for this project. The main issue is that until now, the fast corridor project has not been approved by the rail ministry,” said a railway official who did not want to be identified. Recently, PM Modi had said that the Railways have been granted clearance for 100 per cent FDI, and therefore they should come up with a comprehensive plan for facilitating it in the sector.
Until now, government officials from China and Japan have visited India and conducted extensive talks about the Mumbai- Ahmedabad High Speed Corridor. Some railway officials are skeptical, however, as there is no clarity on this scheme and the nitty-gritties for it are yet to be decided.
“There were talks of using the scheme for procuring rakes and other technological necessities. But there is no clear-cut direction of how this FDI scheme will work,” said a senior railway official.
Moreover, there is also a view that with such high investment, the chances of returns for the private players are not lucrative.
Railway officials also feel that land availability is a major issue, as land required for the project is either owned by private developers or those with political affiliations. So until the government gets hold of the plots for the project, revenue generation for private players will be quite difficult. Normally, worldwide, around 60 per cent of income is generated from the fare box while rest is taken from commercial use of real estate around the rail lines.
As per the initial plan, 10 stations were to be constructed for the CST-Panvel fast corridor, for which work was expected to be started this year, had approvals been in place. The Railways were to use air space for commercial and office use, which was expected to generate around R550 crore. In case of delays in work, the amount expected to be generated just from real estate development of this space could touch Rs 1,800 crore by 2021.
The Railways propose to run 8-car air-conditioned trains on this route that can carry 21,000 passengers each way during peak hour peak direction traffic (PHPDT) by 2019, and 39,000 passengers by 2031.
Of the 49 kms, around 42.4 kms will be elevated. One arm of the corridor, about 8.5 km, will go towards the proposed Navi Mumbai airport in Panvel.
Number of passengers the 8-car AC trains is expected to carry on the CST-Panvel route each way during peak hour peak direction traffic by 2019; expected to reach 39,000 commuters by 2031