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Mumbai: Redrawing Western Railway map for the first time in 160 years

Updated on: 10 July,2024 06:48 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Rajendra B. Aklekar |

Part of the quadrupling work between Virar and Dahanu involves changing the alignment of tracks; here is the engineering behind it

Mumbai: Redrawing Western Railway map for the first time in 160 years

The Vaitarna bridge. Pic/Saurabh Raut

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Mumbai: Redrawing Western Railway map for the first time in 160 years

As the Western Railway (WR) tracks are being quadrupled between Virar and Dahanu, the lines along a few stretches are being realigned from the original pathway laid in the 1860s to sync with the new lines and upgrade them. The historic work is being done with a mix of novel engineering and advanced technology. The sheer scale of works that involves building an entire new corridor is tremendous and is expected to be complete by December 2026. As of June 2024, 29 per cent work has been completed.

Viatarna bridge. Pics/Sourabh Raut
Viatarna bridge. Pics/Saurabh Raut

WR is increasing the speed of the trains to 160 kmph, and the older bridges are unfit to carry trains at such higher speeds. Hence, as a part of the Virar-Dahanu line, the railways is building new creek bridges along the stretch with all four lines together. Bridge 92 at the south-end of Vaitarna river is one such bridge where a unique technique has been adopted for construction.

“Building lines over the Wadhiv island and the Vaitarna has been tricky. With no approach road along the river and the island over which the rail alignment passes, construction engineers have devised a novel method to take the construction debris around the island in a small rail trolley loaded with trucks to fill in land,” said Arun Kumar, Deputy Chief Project Manager (Civil), overseeing the bridge construction.

Viatarna bridge. Pics/Saurabh Raut

“Due to the unavailability of access to Wadhiv island, the transportation of materials on the west side of the existing railway bridge was difficult. The Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) bridge that was constructed adjoining the work has been fitted with rails, but is not in use yet. Hence, we decided to place lorries on a rail trolley (roll-on/roll-off trolley) for transportation of materials using the newly constructed DFC up-line track,” he explained.

According to the official, the self-propelled 13.5-tonne trolley with a capacity of 50 tonnes is suitable to run on a straight track having a gradient of 3 per cent. “The trolley is fitted with four motors, each having 3.7Kw of power. It is also fitted with four electromagnetic disc brakes. So far, we have successfully transported approximately 2,225 cubic metres of concrete for construction of piles and pile caps. While 25,000 cubic metres of earthwork has been carried out,” he added.

There are two bridges, bridge 92 at the south-end and 93 at the northern end. While work on bridge 92 is 55 per cent complete, bridge 93 work is 4 per cent complete. “Western Railway, dubbed as the ‘line of prosperity’ as it historically since the 1860s built new cities and spread prosperity to the areas that it passed through, is now getting an upgrade. All the permissions are in place and work has been going on at a rapid pace. We are building the new lines of prosperity,” said Subhash Chand Gupta, chairman and managing director of Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation.

More trains to Ahmedabad, halts needed

With the condition of Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway in a pitiable state, commuter organisations have appealed to railway authorities to increase frequency of Virar-Dahanu trains and provide a halt for express trains at Palghar, the district headquarters. “We have suggested increasing the frequency of Dahanu local trains during peak hours in both directions. This would greatly benefit the thousands of passengers who rely on this route for their daily commute. Additionally, I request Dahanu local trains not be kept in the loop, ensuring a smoother and more efficient travel experience for all. We have also suggested giving outstation trains a halt at Palghar,” said Prathamesh Prabhutendolkar of the Dahanu Vaitarna Pravasi Sevabhavi Sanstha.

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