Piyush Goyal’s review meeting on Friday in Mumbai turned into a political slugfest

MUMBAI: Union railway minister Piyush Goyal’s review meeting turned into a political slugfest on Friday with MPs and MLAs swarming the venue to put forth their demands and Shiv Sena leaders claiming that they were ignored. Upset that BJP MPs and MLAs were being given “preference” over them, some Sena politicians even staged a walkout.

Following the Elphinstone foot over-bridge (FOB) collapse, the railway minister has been holding regular review meetings in the city to take stock of work on crucial projects. With an eye on 2019 polls, Mumbai MPs and MLAs were hoping to push their ‘wish-list’ to provide amenities to commuters in their respective constituencies.

Shiv Sena MP Rahul Shewale, however, said there were no arrangements made for MPs and MLAs. “We were made to wait for a long time and I was unable to meet the railway minister,” he said.

Shewale said that seven stations need to be redeveloped on priority. “At Dadar, a two-tier structure is planned for parking vehicles and shops/vendors. The other stations which need revamp are Chembur, Mankhurd, Govandi, Chunabhatti, Wadala and King’s Circle.”

MP Shrikant Shinde from Shiv Sena, who managed to meet Goyal, said he pitched for the completion of the fifth and sixth line on the Diva-Thane corridor. “This will lead to addition of 100 more train services. We have got all clearances and are awaiting a court decision. We are hopeful that the project could be completed by 2019,” he told.

Shinde has also suggested a station at Chikloli between Ambernath and Badlapur, which are 10km apart. He also demanded third and fourth lines for trains going past Ambernath. “The railways will soon complete the dedicated freight corridor and clean all stations by October 2,” he said.

MP Kirit Somaiya said he has demanded a semi-AC local train on CR and more 15-car train services. MP Gopal Shetty said there should be more AC trains, with a possible halt at Goregaon station on Western Railway. He also demanded a weekly train from Borivli-Vasai to Mangalore, to benefit those from Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Byculla MLA Waris Pathan said Goyal assured him that Hancock bridge will be completed in 15 months. “I was also assured that the railways will crack a whip on drug addicts on CR tracks,” he said.

The minister was also asked to expedite communications-based train control, a railway signalling system between train and track equipment, complete all pending FOBs and escalators for Mumbai and enhance staff strength of the railway police and RPF.