Mumbai: Civil engineer's plan to increase suburban train capacity gets approved

Updated: Jul 30, 2019, 07:58 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar

A civil engineer's plan to increase suburban train capacity by four times with an arc railway gets Goyal's nod and goes to Railway Board Cell

Mumbai: Civil engineer's plan to increase suburban train capacity gets approved
Ketan Goradia met NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal who assured him the plan will be evaluated

A civil engineer, who has for years been trying to get his plan to ease Mumbai's commuters' woes approved by the railways, has finally hit bulls-eye. He met NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday with the plan that involves an arc railway, and was assured that it would now be evaluated and considered if found practical.

Ketan Goradia has been trying to get his meticulous plan – which estimates the cost of the entire project at R20,000 crore – approved from the railways since 2012, from the time of Railway Ministers Dinesh Trivedi and Mamata Banerjee. "I met Sharad Pawar and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, who has now asked for my project to be evaluated by the Transformation Cell of the Indian Railways. This will be a big help for the city," an excited Goradia told mid-day.

Goradia said that he met Pawar along with a delegation of Mumbai Railway passengers following regular disruptions on Central Railway recently. Pawar and Goyal gave a patient hearing to them and then after studying his plan, Goyal asked his deputies to take it ahead. Asked about the plan's relevance now, he said, "The Metro will be too costly for 75% of rail commuters. It will take cars off the road. But with my plan the passenger carrying capacity of Western, Central and Harbour lines can be increased by 300 to 400 per cent without huge infrastructural changes or financial outlay."

Arc railway to help

The plan also syncs with the newly-planned Metro routes and Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation's proposed rail lines, he said. "The plan involves an arc railway. It will create a high-speed, high efficiency rail/metro network, and multiple nodes around existing stations, with last mile electric vehicle connectivity," Goradia explained. The five key solutions as per his plan include a Currey Road-Lower Parel loop tunnel, a Matunga Road-Matunga Road loop, cab-based (in trains not on poles) signalling with advanced technology, a CSMT- Churchgate loop tunnel along with a harbour line separation bridge and an Oval-Uran-Panvel arc with a CSMT-Diva-Taloja-Panvel line.

The CSMT-Churchgate arc line will have three stations, CSMT (Underground) under platform no 7-8, Oval Station (UG) under Madam Cama Road and Churchgate Underground under Maharshi Karve Marg, to ease passenger traffic. "The project will allow 800sq km additional area to be connected to Mumbai," Goradia said.

'Plan being studied'

Railway officials said that the minister has asked the Transformation Cell of Indian Railways to look into the viability of the project. Officials have already started work on the plan and said that they have asked officials from Mumbai railway to study it in detail, as to how it is placed vis-a-vis the Metros, and other new proposed railway lines, and give them a real-time assessment of it so that a decision on this could be expedited.

But not everyone feels the plan will work. Former railway board member (engineering) and general manager Central Railway, Subodh Jain said, "Goradia's Mumbai suburban plan requires connecting Churchgate to CSMT via an underground line running beneath important heritage buildings. This will involve a confrontation with many self-styled NGOs. No bureaucrat or even politician will venture in this. Also, with Mumbai Metro line 3, the relevance of the plan is diluted to some extent."

Additional area that will be connected to city in the plan

Will loops ease commuter issues?

Goradia's plan involves the railways running in loops at strategic points. It involves connecting the Central and Western Railways and will have connections to the mainland of India between Fort and Uran-Rewas for the new airport etc, so that the railway is seamless.

  • The Harbour line: The harbour line will be modified after Reay Road from where the upper deck of a double deck bridge will start. From Dockyard road station, trains will be diverted over P D'Mello road, providing stations for Sandhurst Road, Masjid. It will then enter CSMT precinct, where an elevated platform will be provided.
  • The Western and Central lines: A circular network will be created by building two tunnels from the option of three alignments connecting the Western Railway to the Central Railway. Two tracks of a six track redesigned Central Main Line will be taken underground by a tunnel starting just before Matunga station, which will be connected to Matunga Road station on the Western line.
  • Oval-Uran-New airport-Panvel-Karjat line: This line will use the Oval-Uran section and then a quadrupled track of Karjat-Panvel- Nhava Sheva section using the existing Karjat- Panvel-Nhava Sheva line alignment which passes near the Navi Mumbai International Airport, and further connect to Karjat.

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