Harbour commuters’ long-time grievance of poor frequency of trains may soon get redressed

मुंबई Mumbai: Central Railway’s Harbour Line may become the first to benefit from the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) scheme, which was announced by the Centre in the railway budget. The 100% FDI was announced to improve the infrastructure in the sector.

Harbour commuters’ long-time grievance of poor frequency of trains may soon be redressed with the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) proposing to use FDI and upgrade the signalling technology, which will reduce the gap between services. “We have submitted a proposal to the railway board to implement the cab-sign alling technology under FDI scheme,” MRVC’s chairman and MD Rakesh Saksena said.

The proposed cab-signalling system will allow trains to keep a shorter distance from each other, increasing the frequency. A train will no longer have to wait for an “all-clear” alert before it can start its journey, so that a safe distance is maintained with rakes ahead. Instead, a motorman will get signals in his cab about the details of the train ahead, such as its speed, location and braking distance. Two trains can now run close to each other, without compromising on safety.

The Harbour line covers 49 km between CST and Panvel and also branches out till Andheri. The corridor has witnessed a 10% growth in passenger traffic per annum, but the infrastructure has not improved much, with services remaining restricted to only the slow corridor; at a gap of four minutes, 583 services are run daily to cater to 14 lakh people. If the new system is implemented, the gap will be 2.30 minutes. The services will go up from 15 to 20 an hour.

According to experts, Harbour is ideal to implement the system, which is already being used on Metro, as the corridor operates only the suburban network. “The proposed technology can’t work with a mix of traffic. It cannot work on CR Main line, which handles suburban services with electrical multiple unit rakes and express trains with locomotive/engines,” Saksena said.

An MRVC official said, “We will invite foreign investors like Hutchinson or Bombardiers to instal the technology. We can ask the interested parties to earn their share of profit by splitting the revenue. Or, we can repay through a fixed mode of payment over 10 years either from our earning or through loan.”