Railways' unfulfilled promises that derailed Mumbai on Friday
An incident like yesterday’s is what it takes for the authorities to sit up and take notice that they have contributed to the deterioration of public transport in the city. Many tall promises were made in the past, and almost none were kept.
Rail disruption: The real reason behind the chaos at Diva railway station
Saving the tiny tots: While his colleagues were busy controlling riots and targeting some innocent passengers in the process, this official was seen escorting children safely out of Diva station. Pic/Sameer Markande
It took a mere broken piece of equipment the pantograph overhead for the entire suburban train system to collapse like dominoes. The railways, on their part, have done very little to keep up with the increase in commuter traffic and demands.
They have fallen short in almost every junction, right from introducing new trains, to the much-hyped air-conditioned local trains, or improvement in train services. As a result, the present system is bursting at its seams and it is the commuters who bear the brunt.
Railways derail Mumbai
>> New make of trains: A year and four Union Railway ministers later, the Railways and Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) are nowhere close to commissioning the Bombardier rakes into daily use. 72 trains, each with 12 coaches, are expected under Phase-II of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP), but the two test rakes are still parked in the yard. There is no news of when more rakes will arrive
>> Power upgradation: As a result, other expansion plans have gone for a toss. The power upgradation and extension of the Harbour line to 12 cars cannot be completed because there are no new rakes to replace the old ones, which run on the old 1,500-volt DC supply. Central Railway is running 10 such trains that have passed their codal life of 25 years.
>> New lines: Work on lines 5 and 6 on both Central Railway and Western Railway is stuck. MRVC is unable to complete work on the Thane-Diva stretch, while work on the CST-Kurla stretch is mired in complexities. Thousands of people are set to go homeless if the lines are to be laid on the latter stretch, thus adding to the delay
>> Longer rakes: Both CR and WR are running just one or two 15-car rakes, even though it has been nearly four years since they were brought in. Each such train can help carry 33 per cent more people
>> Other projects: Little headway has been made in the Seawoods-Uran rail line project; this, when built, will help people use suburban trains all the way till Raigad district. Expansion of rail lines on both Kalyan-Karjat/Kasara section is stuck, quadrupling of the lines on Virar-Dahanu stretch, and even fast corridors on CST-Panvel Harbour line are simply stuck on the drawing boards.
Other infrastructure promises
Even the state government has hardly done anything to augment east-west connectivity.
>> The Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd Metro line two was awarded to R-Infrastructure in 2009, but has remained a non-starter due to various issues. The company terminated the agreement in November 2014, claiming the government failed to honour its obligations. As per the revised plan, this line is now Dahisar-Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd and is expected to be ready by 2020
>> Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro line 3 is yet to begin work
>> Wadala-Thane (Kasarvadavali) Metro line has received clearance, but the proposal is lying with the state government. Tenders can be called once the state brings out the notification
>> CIDCO is building a Metro 23.4-km line in Navi Mumbai from CBD Belapur to Khandeshwar, worth Rs 4,000 crore. The deadline for the first phase from Belapur to Pendhar is January 2017
>> The Sewri-Worli connecting road is expected to improve connectivity between Harbour and Western suburbs. Five bids have been submitted for Rs 455.6-crore project, and work is expected to start this year and take around three years’ time
>> Goregaon-Mulund Link Road is a crucial BMC project and will reduce east-west commuting time. The project is stuck due to protests from environmentalists, who contend it will harm biodiversity in Aarey Milk Colony
>> The Virar-Alibaug multimodal corridor is past the feasibility study stage and MMRDA is carrying out a detailed survey to acquire land for it
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “Mumbai Metropolitan Region needs to have a detailed mobility plan as it is growing and MMRDA is working on it so that holistic transport can be created.”
“We cannot avoid overcrowding in cities. The only solution is the introduction of Bus Rapid transport System (BRTS). We do not have any other option. Politicians and experts at MMRDA think this problem will be fixed with Metro, but Metro rail will take a long time to be operational. People in a city like this cannot depend entirely on a single mode of transport. Lack of connectivity between distant locations has forced people to depend heavily on trains, and BRTS like in Ahmedabad can help reduce this singular dependability.”
- Sudhir Badami, transport expert (As told to Ankoor Anvekar)
“Mumbai needs both short-term and long-term transport projects for it to sustain itself. While long-term plans are necessary, short-term plans, too, are needed. For example, railways should focus on running 15-car trains to cater to densely crowded stations. This is started four years ago, but the numbers of such trains haven’t increased. Even quadrupling and creating fifth and sixth lines should be expedited to separate movement of long-distance trains from local trains, and improve punctuality. ”
- R N Verma, former GM, WR and CR (As told to Shashank Rao)