Thousands to benefit from the nearly 1-km Thane-Mumbai skywalk across the Thane creek, which will be ready by March 2019
The skywalk is being built parallel to the railway tracks that pedestrians currently use to cross the creek to Thane station
Mumbai and Thane will soon have the country's first skywalk connecting two cities across a creek. The ambitious plan will benefit more than 25,000 commuters who currently risk their lives every day, walking on railway tracks to cross the creek to Thane station, resulting in several casualties. But this will soon be water under the bridge once the authorities build the Rs 23.25-crore foot over bridge across the creek.
Thousands of people from towns like Vitava and Kopri are forced to either walk for 20 minutes around the creek to get to Thane station or take a deadly shortcut walking on the Thane-Kalwa railway tracks across the water body. Most end up taking the shortcut, which is risky, but costs them just 10 minutes. Unfortunately, many end up paying the ultimate price for this decision.
Deadly track record
In the past week alone, five people died and five more were injured in trespassing accidents in this railway zone. Frequent casualties along this stretch have no doubt contributed to Thane scoring the third-highest number of railway deaths (295, so far) on Central Railway in 2018. Come March, though, when the skywalk ought to be complete, it will not only save commuters' lives, but also their time, cutting the walk across the creek to just five minutes. That's half the time it costs them even to cross the tracks.
The under-construction skywalk as seen from the Thane-Kalwa railway tracks currently used by pedestrians to cross the creek
The skywalk, which will be 605 metres long and 145 metres wide, will run parallel to the railway tracks currently used by pedestrians. It will be the first in the country to span a creek (Thane creek), as well as the first to connect two cities. While it will land near Thane station on the Mumbai end, across the water body in Thane district, it will connect to Vitava.
Needs more landings
As of now, two landings have been planned, but according to Subodh Jain, former general manager of Central Railway, the authorities must add more landings in between to encourage more people to use the skywalk. "We also need to add more landings in between. If there are only two landings, people will be discouraged to take the skywalk," said Jain, who had first proposed the project in 2012, after a study found that residents of Vitava and Kopri did not have any option but to walk on the railway tracks across the creek to get to Thane station and back.
The project was then incorporated in the railways anti-trespassing measures, and following negotiations, it was decided that the local infrastructure development body — MMRDA — would build it. An MMRDA official explained, "Right now, commuters cross the tracks to avoid a 20-minute walk. The proposed skywalk will take just five minutes to cross."