MRVC to submit draft SSA, Harbour fast track takes off

MUMBAI: CST-Panvel high speed corridor has gained traction as the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation has plans to submit draft State Support Agreement (SSA) for this project to Railway Board and the state government next week.

The signing of an SSA is considered to be an important mile stone in the pre-bidding state of the project to be implemented in Public Private Partnership. The SSA binds the state government to complete important works like land acquisition or shifting of utilities in time-bound process.

The SSA document will be similar to the one prepared for Churchgate-Virar corridor but will be customized for this project. MRVC’s Chairman and Managing Director Rakesh Saksena confirmed, “We will sent the draft SSA by next week.”

Another official said, “As soon as we receive in-principle approval for the SSA, the process to prepared the bid documents will be taken up.”

The Harbour line fast corridor had been dormant as its fate was linked to the progress achieved on the 60-km Churchgate-Virar elevated rail corridor which is also taken up on Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

A MRVC official said, “This stand does not make sense any more as the WR’s elevated corridor has been getting delayed due lack of convergence on the issue of SSA, land acquisition and even issuance of FSI. There is no harm if the pre-bidding process for both this project is carried out simultaneously.”

Railways officials concede that the there are less hurdles in executing the Harbour line corridor compared to WR corridor.

A senior MRVC official said, “Private land does not have to be acquired at all on the entire 49 km long stretch of this corridor. Unlike, WR, where there some portion of the corridor has to go underground; the project in Harbour line will be elevated upto Kurla and will go at ground level from Mankhurd onwards.”

The government land mostly belongs to Mumbai Port Trust. The official said, “There are slums, mostly in Mankhurd and Govandi. Of these some are illegal and relief of rehabilitation of these structure is going to be major problem.”

The bidders too may be more keen on the problem because of huge potential from fare-box earnings. The official said, “The Harbour line is saturated because it operates only slow corridor. Besides, the growth of Navi Mumbai and proposed international airport as well as coming of special economic zone, will bring in large number of commuters.”

The system is expected to have 21,000 peak hour-peak direction (PHPD) trips by 2019 and 39,000 by 2031. The official said, “We expect a 30% shift from the suburban line and 20% shift from road traffic once operations begin on the corridor.”

The frequency of train services is estimated at 4.5-5 minutes. The official said, “It will ensure at least 14 services per hour. Due to the continuous automatic train control (CATC), headway can be improved to 1.5 minutes without compromising on safety.”

MRVC has sought a Floor Space Index which of 4, which will help the bidder recovere 22 per cent of the project cost. “The central government will provide Viability Gap Funding (VGF) to the tune of 20 per cent of the project cost.”