Public transport: some milestones achieved, more to come this year


2018 was a year of hits and misses for the city’s public transport, but the new year is slated to bring some relief to commuters

Success stories of the year

Some key rail projects came to fruition in 2018, while other crucial projects took significant steps towards completion.

New railway lines, more services

Two long-pending railway projects were completed in 2018: the Andheri-Goregaon harbour line extension and Phase I of the Nerul-Uran line. The extension to Goregaon not only provided direct connectivity to commuters in Jogeshwari, Oshiwara and Goregaon to the Harbour Line, it also allowed Western Railway (WR) to increase services to Churchgate. The Nerul-Uran line brought hitherto unconnected regions within the suburban railway network.

WR increased its number of services from 1,355 to 1,365, adding two ladies special services. Central Railway (CR) added 66 new services during the year, of which 40 were added on the Nerul-Uran line.

AC local gains popularity

Though the air-conditioned local train’s inaugural run was on December 25, 2017, full services commenced only on January 1, 2018. The service has been a hit with most commuters, with the Railways adding more halts for the service from November 1. Through the year, the local has had its share of snags and was pulled out of service once during the monsoon when there was a threat of waterlogging. Overall, however, the service has been popular, leading to many asking for better frequency.

Metro gets a huge boost

The three under-construction Metro corridors — 2A, 7 and 3 — were being implemented on war footing. Metro 2A and 7 are aiming to complete construction in 2019. Preliminary work on Metro 2B, 4, 6 also started, while work on Metro 3 continued, with two tunnel boring machines achieving breakthroughs.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) also got in-principle approval to set up the Mumbai Metro Operation Corporation Ltd., an autonomous body that will deal with operation and maintenance of Metro lines being executed by the MMRDA and also the Monorail.

Promised in 2018, hoped for in 2019

Some transport projects that were to be completed in 2018 did not see the light of the day. A couple of them will hopefully bring relief to commuters this year.

Monorail Phase 2

The crucial 10.8-km Phase 2 of the Mumbai Monorail, which will connect Wadala to Jacob Circle, was to be commissioned in 2018. But a series of unfortunate events continued to plague the project. While the civil construction and the sanction from a retired commissioner of railway safety was taken by April, the phase did not start as there weren’t enough functional rakes. Out of the 10 rakes provided by Larsen and Toubro and Scomi Engineering (LTSE), only four are functional at present.

In the meantime, the MMRDA floated tenders to appoint contractors for the operations and maintenance, but with no luck. LTSE was also supposed to provide five additional rakes.

There is some light at end of the tunnel, however, as the MMRDA took over operations in December, and one should expect the services along the entire corridor from Chembur to Jacob Circle sometime in 2019. The MMRDA will soon invite bids for the critical spares to make rakes functional, and also float a global tender for 10 new rakes in 2019.

BKC-Eastern Express Highway connector

The road, which will provide huge relief to motorists travelling from the central suburbs to Bandra Kurla Complex, was expected to be ready by December 2018. While work on the 1.6-km flyover is under way, the project has seen a few delays and is now expected to be completed by March 2019.

The road work has been a source of huge traffic congestion near Priyadarshini building on Eastern Express Highway. The bridge has been held up as it required permissions from Central Railway and had to build over the Mithi River. The flyover crosses two sets of tracks — the Harbour Line near Chunnabhatti and the Central Line near Sion — and will require megablocks from the Railways for the girders to be launched.

What to expect in 2019

If all goes as planned, some key projects are slated to be completed in the new year, while work on others is set to pick up pace. Collateral activity from various works is set to affect commuters one way or other.

Relief from traffic

The MMRDA is aiming to remove barricades along Link Road and Western Express Highway, on which Metro Lines 2A and 7 are being constructed. The aim is to complete the civil construction of these lines by the end of 2019. The barricades along the two arterial roads have led to traffic snarls through 2018, sometimes stretching for several kilometres.

Prepare for snarls elsewhere

Motorists in the central suburbs and those living betwen Andheri (West) and Bandra (West) are in for a painful 2019, as construction work on Metro lines 2B (DN Nagar-Mandale) and 4 (Wadala-Kasarvadavali) is set to pick up pace. Barricading along major roads such as SV Road, LBS Marg and Eastern Express Highway has already started. MMRDA has also started preliminary work on the Swami Samarth Nagar-Vikhroli Metro Line 6, which will be followed by barricades on the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road, one of the city’s major east-west connectors.

More AC locals

A persistent demand of commuters last year was for more AC local services. The new year promises more AC local services being introduced. The Integral Coach Factory will supply an indigenously designed and manufactured AC electric multiple unit in January 2019.

Smarter BEST

The city’s ailing bus transport system might get two key infrastructure advances. The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) is planning to procure 40 AC electric buses and 40 regular electric buses under the Centre’s Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles (FAME) programme. BEST is also in the process of setting up an Intelligent Traffic Management System, which will relay the estimated arrival time of buses across the city to commuters.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 9:55:49 PM |

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