Planning commission plans 2 more lines between Virar, Dahanu to de-congest Mumbai rail traffic

Updated: May 01, 2018, 13:19 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar

Planning body formally notifies land acquisition for two more lines between Virar and Dahanu, which will also help to de-congest rail traffic in Mumbai

Dahanu Road

Dahanu commuters, your wait time for a local train is set to go down from four hours to a mere four minutes in the future. The authorities have planned a major expansion of the Western Railway (WR) beyond Virar, to tackle the bottleneck towards Dahanu. Not only will they build two additional tracks, but WR also intends to introduce eight new stations.

There are a grand total of seven train services to Dahanu every day; five from Churchgate and two from Dadar. This means that commuters either have to fight tooth and nail to find a spot on the local, or just wait for the next one to come along — four hours later. This is why most commuters prefer to reach Virar and catch a connecting train from there.

The number of commuters to Dahanu is expected to increase eight-fold by 2041. Pic/Saurabh Raut
The number of commuters to Dahanu is expected to increase eight-fold by 2041. Pic/Saurabh Raut

Dahanu trains are already massively overcrowded, leading to frayed tempers and violent outbursts among passengers. It is likely to only get worse, as the number of daily commuters is expected to increase more than eight-fold by 2041. The current daily ridership of 1.3 lakh is estimated to rise to 3.97 lakh by 2021, and to 11.25 lakh by the year 2041.

Despite the heavy commuter load, the railway authorities have been unable to increase the number of services because there simply aren't enough tracks. "While the railways are pushing for fifth and sixth lines in Mumbai, the network sharply narrows down beyond Virar, with just two lines, one up and one down. The number of passengers and settlements towards Dahanu are increasing by the day, and many large and medium-scale industries have also come up between Virar and Dahanu Road, due to comparatively cheaper land. Railway lines beyond Virar have reached their capacity," said a senior official from the MRVC.

Western Railway runs seven services from Mumbai to Dahanu Road daily. Pic/Saurabh Raut
Western Railway runs seven services from Mumbai to Dahanu Road daily. Pic/Saurabh Raut

New tracks and stations
The MRVC is about to embark on a quadrupling project to expand the 63.8-km stretch from Virar to Dahanu into four tracks. "Under various feasibility and study reports, it has been repeatedly advised to increase the number of tracks by quadrupling. The two additional lines are proposed for the west side of the existing lines, as the Dedicated Freight Corridor Project is coming up in the east," the official added.

The new tracks will make a vast improvement in the frequency of Dahanu trains, taking it down from a train in every four hours, to 12 minutes by 2023, 6 minutes by 2031, and four minutes by 2041.

The railways will also construct eight new stations (see map) along the line. It will be a good while before the project is completed, though, as the authorities will have to acquire land from 20 villages along the corridor for the project. The MRVC has now formally put up a land acquisition notification, and the authorities will negotiate and buy the land from the villagers. The stations are not expected to be built immediately, but have been earmarked for when the need arises.

How it will help Mumbai
Dahanu has a weak link to Mumbai, with just two tracks from Virar onwards. Any accident or disruption on the tracks blocks all train traffic heading into Mumbai on via WR. This includes not just the Dahanu locals, but also long-distance trains from Delhi, Gujarat and Rajasthan, among others. Quadrupling the line will create an alternative corridor of two lines that can serve as back-up to the existing lines, and also help WR to segregate long-distance trains from suburban rail traffic. This will ease up the tracks for more services to Dahanu.

On the Central Railway, too, MRVC has been working on a third line beyond Kalyan to segregate suburban and outstation traffic.

Also read: WR faces contempt over absence of trains on Virar-Dahanu route

Villages on the line
Birwadi, Boisar, Gothanpur, Kapase, Karwale, Kardan, Kasbe Mahim, Kelve Road, Kolgaon, Makrunasar, Navli, Palghar, Ranishigaon, Rothe, Saphale, Khaira, Sartodi, Umberpada, Umroli and Vadhiv Sarawli.

Areas to benefit
Vaitarna: Expected to attract new employment and habitation with hydropower project.
Kelva Road: Popular among tourists and connects to Kelva Beach and Fort, Sheetla Devi Temple and Shirgaon Fort. It is a major fishing village.
Palghar: Residential town of 53,000 population (2011 census) with growing industrialization.
Boisar: The town currently has more than 1,500 industrial units, with global corporates like Tata Steel, JSW Steel, BARC, Tarapur power station, etc. Asia's first nuclear power plant, Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS) is located 12 km away.
Dahanu Road: Manufacturing hub where rubber balloons, rice and other goods are produced. There is also a 500 MW thermal power plant that supplies power to Mumbai.

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