Hindustan Times spoke to Pramod Chander Sehgal, the managing director of Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC), which is planning and building suburban rail projects.
When can commuters see additional lines and less-crowded trains? Even after 15 years, additional lines on the Thane-Kurla stretch are stuck.
There were issues, such as rehabilitation of project-affected people and land acquisition, which have now been sorted out. The fifth and sixth lines on the Thane-Kurla stretch would soon be complete. Under Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) Phase 2, there would be an addition of 864 coaches — 72 12-car trains — which would increase carrying capacity by 30%. Once the new lines and trains are in place, it would reduce travel time by 10% as long-distance and suburban trains would each have exclusive lines.
New lines were proposed in Navi Mumbai and other areas. How would these projects affect Mumbai Metropolitan Region?
There is less scope for expansion of new lines than what has already been proposed in Mumbai; it has reached saturation point. This year, the Railway Budget mentioned development of lines on the Virar-Vasai-Diva-Panvel section, with a fast corridor on the Harbour line. This would improve east-west connectivity.
With the cash crunch, how will the projects be built fast?
We have got a major portion of the funds under MUTP 1, except for the Rs. 100 crore the state government is supposed to provide. More finance is expected from the World Bank under Phase 2.
Will seating arrangement in trains change? Will they get air-conditioning?
We have been receiving proposals for changes to the seating arrangement. Also, we are studying the feasibility of vertical seats on both sides or Metro-like seating to accommodate more commuters. As of now, there is no possibility of air-conditioned suburban trains.