MRVC to seek funds for 2 new corridors

MUMBAI: Union Railway Minister, Piyush Goyal asked the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) to look for funding through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for two of its three projects proposed under Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP)-4, in a review meeting held earlier this month.

The three projects include the ambitious 55-km-long CSMT-Panvel elevated corridor – expected to cost Rs 14,000 crore, CSMT-Thane underground high-speed corridor – expected to cost Rs 16,000 crore, and a corridor for a suburban line from Vasai to Panvel – expected to cost Rs 6,000 crore, of which the first two will require to be funded by prospective investors through PPP.

A feasibility study on the CSMT-Thane underground corridor was undertaken by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) but the report failed to impress the MRVC and Central Railway officials. The proposal has now been sent to the state government for a review.

For the Vasai-Panvel corridor, officials have reportedly been instructed by Goyal to check the feasibility of running additional services using automatic signalling and cab-signalling systems – which have already been approved under MUTP-3A – on the existing lines, instead of constructing additional lines and incurring the huge cost for the same.

A senior official from MRVC said, “The idea is that the goods train presently running on the two lines will be moved to the Dedicated Freight Corridor on the completion of its construction by 2024, leaving the lines only for suburban passengers’ use. Also, we are looking at bunching the goods trains during off-peak hours to increase suburban passenger services along with adding more trains with improved signalling systems.”

Panvel elevated railway corridor to end its journey at Wadala, instead of CSMT?

In a boost to the plan for a transport hub at Wadala, the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) are contemplating starting the elevated harbour rail corridor to Panvel from Wadala, instead of the earlier planned Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT).

The authority wants to develop Wadala into a transport hub, with an integrated transport hub (ITH) project at Anik bus depot. Among the proposals are a bus depot, Mono-rail-Metro lines and inter-state bus terminal (ISBT).

The MMRDA has approved the harbour railway elevated rail corridor project, terming it “essential” in its Comprehensive Transport Study (CTS). The authority is in talks with the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) to study the need to start the corridor from CSMT.

One of the reasons that the corridor is being planned from Wadala and not from CSMT is Metro 11. The approved line will connect Wadala to General Post Office (GPO) near CSMT. Metro 11 from Wadala is an extension to the under-construction line 4 (Wadala-Kasarvadavli).

“The change has been discussed in several rounds of meetings with the Unified Mumbai Metropolitan Transport Authority (UMMTA) and MMRDA officials. While we have got the CTS approval, the MMRDA will decide the final plan. The project will then be sent to the railway board for sanctions,” said a senior MRVC official.

The elevated railway corridor will connect to both the Navi Mumbai and Mumbai airports. The corridor will pass through Palm Beach Road in Vashi, cross the Uran creek and take a diversion from Seawoods railway station for the new airport. Commuters will be able to reach the Navi Mumbai airport – the deadline for which is 2019 – from Seawoods railway station in 20 minutes.

In order to reach the Mumbai airport, passengers will have to alight at Mankhurd railway station (part of the elevated corridor) and board a Metro from there to reach the Mumbai airport. Mankhurd is one of the proposed stations on the Metro-2B corridor.

The CSMT-Panvel elevated corridor and Vasai-Virar elevated corridor were not approved under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) 3 A and were sent back to the MRVC in March 2019.

The Railway ministry had asked the MRVC to review the projects keeping in mind the city’s new development plan, construction of new Metro lines and shifting of business districts from CSMT towards the suburbs.

The MRVC has also proposed MUTP-4, which includes an elevated corridor between CSMT and Panvel, third and fourth railway lines between Panvel and Vasai and underground railway between CSMT and Thane railway stations.