Harbour Line platform extension: Be prepared for CR's longest ever mega block of 72 hours

Jan 29, 2016, 07:41 IST | Shashank Rao

While certain services to CST will be closed between Feb 12 and 14, Central Railway officials said it would be wise to avoid travel as there is expected to be hundreds of cancellations

February 14 may be Valentine’s Day, but Mumbaikars are unlikely to feel any love for Central Railway, which will carry out the mother of all mega blocks, shutting down several services for a whopping 72 hours between February 12 and 14. Never before has such a massive block of services taken place, and this has been necessitated by long pending work at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST).

Also Read: Platform work halts as rail officials spar over mega block duration

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus currently caters to 1,647 suburban train services and approximately 50 long distance trains. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus currently caters to 1,647 suburban train services and approximately 50 long distance trains. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

CR and the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation will shut services on three lines, as well as several platforms at CST. The mega block will be particularly hard on Harbour commuters who will face a complete shutdown of services beyond Wadala, as both lines will be shut.

On the other hand, one of the slow lines (bound for platform 3, CST) on Central Main will be closed from Byculla.

Read Story: Mega block, power failure force CR commuters to take a walk

“This is a huge project and needs a huge block at CST station for 72 hours. We will be making several changes at the station and won’t be able to operate train services. The Harbour line will get severely affected during the three days, and the slow lines too, as there will be hundreds of cancellations. We will, however, try to run additional services between Kurla and CST on the Main line to compensate for the lost services,” said a senior CR official.

No pain, no gain
Citizens will, of course, view the mega block as a great inconvenience, but it will ultimately lead to better services for the 10 lakh commuters who use Harbour line. Once the work is over, the Harbour line — which can presently hold only nine cars — will accommodate 12-car trains. This upgrade will boost carrying capacity by 33 per cent.

mid-day had first reported this revamp project in December 2013. CR is yet to calculate the number of cancellations and additional services, but CR officials advised that it is wiser to avoid travel, since even fast trains might get affected by diversions on crossovers.

It is for certain that such a major block has never been attempted before.

The last such major block was in August 2009, when services were halted for 48 hours as the 141-year-old Masjid Road Over Bridge was demolished. Recently, an 18-hour block was executed during the demolition of the Hancock bridge.

The project
The Rs 800-crore project will involve several improvements to CST, as well as the extension of Harbour line platforms (number 2 and 3).

“We will be extending the platforms by 65 metres and will also relocate the signals,” said Prabhat Ranjan, chief PRO, MRVC.

Also Read: Mega block affects Mumbai train commuters

Around 15 signals will be relocated to ensure that the tracks can be shifted east towards Wadi Bunder. It is crucial that this work be carried out within the 72-hour deadline, but officials are sceptical, especially considering the recent delays in MRVC’s work.

For instance, on January 24, MRVC carried out similar work at Wadala, although on a smaller scale. It was to be a 6-hour block, but technical errors extended the deadline by another hour and 20 minutes. This caused lot of problems to commuters, especially during evening hours.

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