There was a decisive policy push for mega rail projects in Mumbai in Thursday’s Railway budget for 2016-2017.
The budget gave the green signal to financial closure and early award of tenders for two elevated rail corridors — Churchgate-Virar and CST-Panvel — expected to increase the capacity of the suburban rail network in the long term. However, no clear timeline has been set for the rollout of the project.
The CST- Panvel corridor will be integrated with the Metro network and connectivity built-in with the international airport in Mumbai and the proposed Navi Mumbai international airport.
The length of the underground and overground stretches, the starting and ending points of the corridors, and other details have to be worked out. At a meeting last Monday, the Chief Secretary gave an indication to prioritise rail projects, Western and Central Railway officials said.
A number of projects clubbed under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP)-III will get kick-started with the Niti Ayog’s go ahead for phase III. These include quadrupling of railway lines from Virar to Dahanu and doubling of lines from Panvel to Karjat and the creation of a new line from Airoli to Kalwa.
Among the big ticket projects that found a mention in the budget was the 'bullet train'. Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said a special purpose vehicle will be formed for a high speed passenger corridor from Ahmedabad to Mumbai with assistance from Japan.
Overall Maharashtra has received sanction for 11 new lines, which includes the high-density Jalgaon-Bhusawal and Wardha-Nagpur routes.
Trespass control was also one of the key safety steps to receive a budgetary focus. These controls will be set up between stations at 22 suburban locations on the western and central lines. WR has identified areas between Mahim-Matunga, Bandra-Khar, Vile Parle-Andheri and Jogeshwari-Andheri for this.
The height of low level platforms will be increased. On the central line 83 such platforms have been identified, of which work on 57 is complete. On the western line 145 platforms have been identified out of which 58 have been covered.
The budget has sanctioned Rs. 20.5 crore for an integrated security system out of which Rs 1 crore has been given for the current year. A total of 37 stations will be brought under the security system comprising CCTVs at stations, baggage and automatic vehicle scanners, portable scanners and bomb disposal squads. Mumbai Central and Bandra Terminus will be the first two stations to get a security overhaul. Currently 18 coaches on western lines have CCTVs and tenders will be finalised for 50 more.
The long wait for the AC local is likely to end on March 31, when the first 12-car AC rake will roll into Mumbai. However, this will be pressed into service only after the Railway Board decides a fare structure, said GC Agarwal, General Manager, Western Railway.
Among passenger amenities the nation-wide launch of new trains and easy ticket cancellation facilities was announced in the budget. In Mumbai, a water recycling plant with a capacity of one million litres per day will be set up at Bandra Terminus “Any substantial change is possible when additional capacity is created. This budget has moved away from the style of earlier budget where specific trains are announced,” said R D Tripathi, Additional GM Central Railway.