The recently appointed Indian Railways Board Member, (Engineering) AK Mittal, was on his first inspection visit to Mumbai yesterday after taking charge. While he was welcomed with a derailed engine, mid-day found that Mittal has big plans for the suburban railways, which include expansion and better structuring.
AK Mittal at the meeting with Central Railway yesterday at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Excerpts from an interview...
Q. Which Mumbai projects will get an impetus?
A. We want to expand the suburban railways till Roha and that’s why we are looking at working on a war footing for the Pen-Roha section. Also, the Andheri-Goregaon additional lines will be completed fast.
Q. What is the update on the Thane-Diva fifth and sixth line project, which is stuck and could help separate long distance trains from suburban ones?
A. I have asked the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation to expedite the completion of the Thane-Diva fifth and sixth lines. We realise that the Thane-Kalyan stretch needs improvement. There are issues related to illegal structures on that belt, which need to be addressed. At this point, we are looking at getting it ready in the next financial year.
Q. What is railway ministry doing about illegal settlements near the Parsik tunnel?
A. Yes, I am aware that at the Kalyan end of Parsik tunnel, a landslide had affected the train services. We have asked the railway authorities to speak to the local municipal corporation about removing all structures infringing on railway lines. Even if this means removal of illegal shanties along the rail network, we will do it, as it poses a danger to trains.
Q. What do you have to say about train derailments? There was one on Thursday near CST and another recently at Dahanu.
A. The Central Railway is looking into the derailment of the Udyan Express engine. Reason can be known after thorough investigations. As far as derailment of the wagons at Dahanu are concerned, railway officials, right up to general manager GC Agarwal, were at the spot and that’s why he would be in a better position to speak about this.