MRVC to seek State Government nod for Rs.55 crore transport project

MUMBAI: The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) is likely to approach the state government for approval of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) 3-A. According to sources, Rs54,777crore may be sanctioned for the MUTP-3A project. A meeting will be held in Mantralaya with the finance and urban development department secretaries; the date of the meeting is yet to be decided.

MRVC officials have said they are ready with the design and blueprint of stations and once the state government gives its approval, work will start. “As soon as the Railway Board provides clearance, the proposal will be approved by the cabinet committee on economic affairs,” added the official. “In April, a detailed report of the MUTP-3A project was submitted to the state government and the ministry of railways. We are positive about getting their approval,” said R S Khurana, chairman and managing director of MRVC.

Last month, railway minister Piyush Goyal had visited Mumbai thrice and had discussed the MUTP-3A project with railway officials at all three meetings, stating this project was crucial for the city’s commuters.  Railway officials said MUTP-3A will help reduce crowding in Virar, Panvel, Bandra, Kalyan and Borivali. A fast, elevated corridor between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) and Panvel on the Harbour line has been proposed in the project. “The deadline for completion of the MUTP-3A project is 2022-23. The state government will fund 50 per cent of the project, meaning it will pay Rs 27,388 crore to the MRVC for the project,” added official.

Projects going at a snail’s pace!

Be it the additional rail lines between Thane and Diva, CSTM and Kurla, or Mumbai Central and Borivali, it’s been years since they were proposed, but work is still ongoing at a snail’s pace.

The Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) is currently working on these projects under Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP). On the Thane-Diva line, the railways took a major block last week and another one is expected on October 14. “We are shifting the rail lines. Once this is complete, the two new rail lines can be laid,” said an official from MRVC.

Until that happens, however, there is a bottleneck created between Thane and Diva stations because there are just four lines, unlike the six that exist between Thane and Kurla. On the CSMT-Kurla route, meanwhile, officials say there are land acquisition issues that prevent the laying of extra lines.

The Central Railway is working on a Rs 51 crore Parel Terminus, which is where local and long-distance trains will terminate. Once that happens, it can then acquire land between Parel and CSMT.

Meanwhile, Western Railway is trying to connect Santacruz and Mahim, having run into opposition from locals at Bandra. This meant Western Railway lost Rs 10 crore, as politicians too failed to make headway. The fifth line is being relaid through Bandra Terminus, while work on the sixth line between Borivali and Mumbai Central hasn’t even begun yet.

New Lines Needed

Central Railway is working on a Rs 51 crore Parel Terminus, which is where local and long-distance trains will terminate. Meanwhile, Western Railway lost Rs 10 crore after Bandra locals protested land acquisition for extra lines

New railway lines on paper, no tracks to lay!

What do people expect the most from the Indian Railways; more trains and faster commute. For this there needs to be newer rail lines and expansion of existing network. This seems to have taken a hit as various Railway zones have raised the issue of shortage of rail; with the Railway Board. Shortage of rail will effect every single passenger commuting in the rail system; including those on Mumbai suburban.

The most recent high-level discussion that has happened pan-India was was on September 11 where the General Managers of few railway zones; including the Central Railway flagged the problem. At the Infrastructure Works Review meeting held through video conferencing on September 11, one of the major issues cited is shortage of rails.

For instance the Central Railway has stated that they will commission Belapur-Seawoods-Uran project by October 2018. Similarly they also have part of Kalyan-Kasara 3rd line in hand whereby they aim to complete the stretch between Vasind-Asangaon by December 2018. Sources said that one of the reasons behind delay in completion with current deadline is the availability of rail tracks; apart from land availability.

Senior railway officials said that at the above mentioned meeting, General Manager DK Sharma had stated that there is issue of shortage of rails in achieving the target and all targets shall be met by March 2019 provided rails are supplied in time.

“The GMs of other railways too raised the point about shortage of rail and how they receive lesser number of rakes carrying these rails,” said a senior railway official.

The CR is expected to complete 60 kms of rail lines by end of this month which also includes Bhadli-Bhusaval and Narayandoh-Solapurwadi corridors. The Western Railway on the other hand has no projects in Mumbai and only one rail corridor in Maharashtra which is Udhna-Jalgaon which has been completed. At the meeting, the General Manager AK Gupta of Western Railway said that they require rail panels to commission 170 kms of tracks by December this year.

Meanwhile sources said that in the first phase they will make Belapur-Kharkopar-Nerul section available for local trains. This will be just 12-kms of the 25 kms long corridor that shall be thrown open. This, however allow trains coming all the way from CSMT and Panvel to reach Kharkopar. The new rail lines will connect the Navi Mumbai Airport as well via Targhar. Other stations on this corridor would be Bamandongri and Sagarmala.

The CR are expected to open the 12-kms long Vasind-Asangaon section before January 2019 after which long distance trains will be diverted on them. The remaining 55kms will take a while for want of rails and land of 42 hectares needs to be acquired.

Railway Board speaks:

Officials from the Railway Board told that they are aware of the situation and are in talks with SAIL. “There is no shortage of rails and railway zones are saying this to avoid the deadlines. In fact we are expecting 10 lakh tonne of rail that is sufficient to lay 8500 kms of rail lines,” said a Railway Board official.

In fact, in the past few days they have also proposed changes in the length of rails from 70 meters to 130 meters. “We are looking at welding two such long rails and make it into 260 meters long one for faster installation,” said another official. The Railway Board blames the local zones for looking more into punctuality rather than safety which can be dealt by replacing existing rail tracks and laying new ones.