East-West rail corridor hangs in the balance

Feb 07, 2013, 07:55 IST | Shashank Rao

Railway authorities say unless state government shows interest, rail connectivity project between eastern and western parts of the metropolitan region won't take off

With the north-south suburban rail system bursting at the seams carrying 70-lakh plus commuters daily, plans to spread the load from the current network by improving the east-west region connectivity lies in the state’s hand, railway officials say.

Last week, railway authorities made a presentation to the Chief Secretary and other senior officials from the state government with a proposal to develop the Virar-Vasai-Diva-Panvel stretch, Karjat-Panvel line, 3rd and 4th lines on the Virar-Dahanu stretch and a fast corridor on the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST)-Panvel Harbour line. “We have made presentations to the state government for these new rail corridors,” said Prabhat Ranjan, chief PRO, Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC).

However, until the state government does not approve these projects, the railway authorities would not be able to proceed with the funding through the rail budget, which would be presented later this month. “It all depends on the state government now. These plans would only become a reality if the state shows a keen interest in the project. Only then will it be listed in the rail budget for approval of funds,” said a senior railway official, on condition of anonymity.

Railway officials said that until now the focus was on catering to the current north-south rail network, while those wanting to commute from east to west regions have to depend on road transport. “The road connectivity on these proposed routes is in a pitiable condition. Rail routes would create a convenient public transport system albeit the operation of trains will become cumbersome due to too many crisscrossing of lines,” said the railway official.

Four lines will boost connectivity

CST-Panvel fast corridor
The railways are trying hard to get necessary permissions for constructing this Rs 15,000-crore plus project. The fast line would benefit over 10 lakh commuters using the Harbour line. It will also connect to the proposed International Airport terminal at Panvel.

Virar-Vasai-Diva-Panvel corridor
This corridor will connect the western, central and harbour lines on the suburban section and is of vital importance. The construction costs are estimated at Rs 10,000 crore for the 76-km line. Railways claim that this line would serve Bhiwandi and other industrial areas located on the route.

3rd and 4th lines on Virar-Dahanu
The railways are already struggling to start suburban train services on the 65-km long Virar-Dahanu route. Western Railway has been for long breaching deadlines, which they claim is happening due to several technical issues. The latest deadline they have set is March 31, 2013. The additional two lines will separate movement of long distance trains from the suburban section once it becomes operational.

Karjat-Panvel corridor
This is an addition to the proposed new corridors planned by the railways. This route will connect the Harbour line with the Main line of Central Railway. This stretch can be extended right up to Khopoli that is currently connected to the Main line.

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