Railways miffed with Maharashtra for refusing funds

Mumbai: The railway is miffed with the state government for refusing to loosen its purse strings and fund the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) IV. The railway said it could not afford two big projects i.e. the Andheri-Virar and Panvel-CST elevated fast corridors which will cost around Rs 17,000 as per last year’s estimates.

City railway officials said that they could no longer afford the MUTP formula where the state gave 49 per cent and the railway 51 per cent of the project, “Until now, the MUTP formula was being used for funding projects for the expanding suburbs of greater Mumbai, but then finally, it is the responsibility of the state to find funding for such projects and not the railway,” said an official on condition of anonymity.

Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for MUTP III in June this year but the railway said they did not want to repeat the same mistake of the past and invest more than what they could afford. “The CST to Panvel line will cost Rs 7,020 crore while the premium corridor from

Andheri to Virar will cost Rs 10,000 crore, but again this is as per 2013-2014 estimates. We have to assume the cost of such projects rises by 6 per cent every year due to inflation and market cost,” the official added.

Officials said that if the state did not agree to invest at least 70 to 80 per cent of the project, it would be opened up as much private investment was possible. “Say we find private funds to invest in about 85 per cent of the project, the railway will then provide the remaining funds and will hand over revenue to the private company for about 35 to 40 years. That way, they will earn their revenue and we will invest the minimum amount,” said the official.

However, this would also mean the private company fixed fares which may not be feasible for common commuters.