Mumbai’s elevated rail corridor project called off

Mumbai’s Rs 24,000 crore rail corridor project linking Churchgate and Virar — one of the major public-private projects (PPP) of the railways — has been called off as Maharashtra reportedly failed to firm up a state support agreement with the railways ministry.

This poses a major setback to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aim to attract private and foreign players to fund rail infrastructure projects in the country.

“After several extensions, the project Request for Quotation (RFQ) process was finally brought to a close on April 27, when bids were opened… With none of the private firms having participated, the project has now been dropped,” sources said.

Infrastructure giants including Reliance infrastructure, Gammon, IL&FS, Essar, GMR had initially shown interest in the project, while some Indian companies had even firmed up foreign technical partners to implement the project.

As a pre-condition of the project execution, state support agreement was required to be signed, enlisting the Maharashtra government’s commitment to bear responsibility and costs for the shifting of public utilities, and also to identify the Floor Service Index of the identified land of 1,31,363 square meters that was proposed for the project.

Conceived in 2007 during Lalu Prasad’s tenure as the railways minister, hopes of reviving the project had heightened following the BJP coming in to power both in the state and Centre.

The project was to have been executed on design, build, finance, operate and transfer basis, with a mix of underground (18 km), elevated (33.5 km) and at-grade tracks (8.7 km) with 27 stations and a maintenance depot.