Seawoods-Belapur-Uran Rail Corridor: Railway Board clears Rs.300 Crore Cost Hike

Mumbai: The railway board recently cleared a cost escalation of Rs 300 crore to speed up the 27-km Belapur-Seawoods-Uran suburban railway line project, which will provide connectivity to newly developed areas in Raigad district. This increases the cost of the much-delayed project from Rs 1,450 crore to Rs 1,780 crore.

Railway officials said this was down to inflation, a delay in land acquisition, and other reasons. “The railway board approved revised estimates of the project last month,” said a senior railway official.

Nerul-Seawoods-Belapur-Uran Rail Corridor MumbaiThe Central Railway undertook the project to provide rail connectivity to trans-harbour town Uran and its surrounding areas, which have seen rapid development since the Jawaharlal Nehru Port came up. The line is expected to cut travel time to Uran, which is 95km from Mumbai.

The project was launched in July 1997 and was originally expected to cost Rs 495 crore.  The project is a joint venture between the Indian Railways and the City Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), which will share the cost. But 18 years later, officials have not been able to acquire all the land required for the project. A railway official said Cidco was supposed to hand over a 3-km stretch that is under the forest department, but is yet to do so.

Railway officials said the plan was to split the project into two phases — Seawoods to Kharkopar and Kharkopar to Uran. They plan to complete the first phase by mid-2017 and the next by the end of 2018.

The railway line will have 11 new 12-coach suburban trains – the cost of which is included in the project’s budget – and 10 stations en route.

While the project was proposed in 1997, CIDCO has invited possible designs for stations on the railway corridor only in 2014; project will then be undertaken in two phases ending in 2017 and 2018.

However, it is only now 18 years later that the project have finally seen the light of day, with the planning agency accepting design proposals for stations on the corridor and Railway Board giving clearances for the Budget.  CIDCO officials told that during the Bidding stage, they have received applications from six design consultancies for designing the stations on the corridor, which will connect residents of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Uran, to Mumbai and Thane by rail.

S.A.Bokade, Superintendent Engineer (Railway projects) at CIDCO, said, “we have suggested that the designers come up with designs by the January this year with their techno-commercial quotations for the project, based on which we have taken a final decision based on the design and the cost estimates.” This development followed a series of hurdles that the project has met with over the years including major roadblock it cleared in acquisition of a 4-km stretch of land between two of the stations, Kharkopar and Ranjanpada, which is why the civic body has divided the project into two phases.

Of the 27-km corridor, the first phase covers five stations Seawoods, Sagar Sangam, Targhar, Bamandongri and Kharkopar. While Seawoods station has already been developed, the designers have been asked to submit proposals for the remaining four in the first phase. Approximately 4-km stretch between Kharkopar and Ranjanpada stations has also been acquired finally from the forest department. Hence we are currently speeding up the first phase of the project,” said Bokade.