Plan for Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train corridor may get back on track

The union railway minister has asked the state to first look into technical feasibility before discarding the possibility of the corridor; CM promises to do so

India’s first high-speed bullet train corridor Mumbai to Ahmedabad that was halted in the initial phases, is all set to see a revival. Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has asked the state government to first look into the technical feasibility of this national project announced in the Railway Budget, before discarding its possibility.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the union railway minister had an all-important meeting on Thursday, after the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) refused to part with its land at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), which is possibly the starting point of this bullet train.

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis
Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis met and discussed the bullet train fast corridor. File pics

“The railway minister has asked the state government to first take the technical feasibility into consideration,” said a senior railway official. Sources said that this report is expected by May, 2015, for the entire 520-km stretch. The MMRDA had stated that there is no space for having this rail terminal at BKC, the business hub.

A state government official has said that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has promised to look into the matter first before taking any decision. “The availability of land is secondary. Primarily, we will look at the technical feasibility report of this high-speed corridor,” said a senior government official.

The railways also have space at Kurla, where they have huge yards. However, BKC is also close to suburban stations on the Central and Western lines, and also the Eastern and Western Express Highways. This high-speed corridor is expected to have halts at Thane (that will connect both Central and Navi Mumbai), Virar, Palghar, Vapi, Valsad and finally Ahmedabad.

Other projects
Projects under Mumbai Urban Transport Project-III like the Airoli-Kalwa railway line, Panvel-Karjat doubling, lines 3 and 4 between Virar-Dahanu, developing 20 stations of Mumbai, the Rs 120-crore trespass control, and getting rolling stock for new trains were also discussed during this meeting.

Prabhu also asked Fadnavis to explore the possibility of introducing staggered work hours for Mumbai’s office-goers, which, he said, would reduce the peak-hour rush in suburban trains.

 

Fast Corridor on Harbour line
The state government and Indian Railways have proposed a multi-modal corridor between south Mumbai and Panvel. This means there will be a three-lane road on each side, with the railway line in the middle. This shall be part of the fast corridor proposed on the Harbour line, earlier pegged at Rs 15,000 crore.

With the revised proposal now, the cost of this multi-modal corridor could increase. A railway official said, “This project will be implemented under a separate scheme, and we will have to prepare funding patterns for it.” Initially, this project was to be part of MUTP-3.

Sources said that at the meeting between CM Devendra Fadnavis and Union Rail Minister Suresh Prabhu, both were keen on implementing it. Sources said the corridor would be elevated, and also on-ground wherever possible. Officials are also looking at the possibility of acquiring port lands for this project.

Bullet train to Ahmedabad

520 km
Approximate distance the train will cover

350 kmph
The expected operating speed of the train

3-4 hours
The time it will take to reach Ahmedabad using the bullet train

8 hours
The time it takes from Mumbai to Ahmedabad in a train currently

7
Number of stations on the high-speed corridor

Rs 60,000 cr
Approximate project cost

Rs 15 cr
The cost for laying a kilometre of tracks for the current railway network

Rs 125 cr
The cost per km for the high-speed corridor

Meet the Rail Minister today at 5pm

For the first time, a union railway minister will regularly find time to listen to the grievances of Mumbaikars. Railway minister Suresh Prabhu has decided he will be available at his Dadar office for people whenever he is in Mumbai. He will meet citizens for one hour from 5 pm today.

The minister will also meet railway staff. People can contact his Dadar office to know of his availability. According to railway officials, he has decided to meet people when he is Mumbai. “If anyone has any issues 
or any suggestions, they can visit the minister’s Dadar office and give their complaints.

It is a very positive initiative from any railway minister to take an interest in the problems of Mumbaikars. We have been getting suggestions for long about such an initiative but we couldn’t do anything earlier,” said an official. Interestingly, officials from Central Railway (CR) sounded annoyed when asked about this meeting.

- Vedika Chaubey

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