On Wednesday, Mumbai got a better deal in the Union railway budget than it had for several years, as Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi tried to meet the growing demands of a metropolis that has 67 lakh suburban commuters using train services every day.
The launch of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project III will give a boost to the state government’s efforts to decongest Mumbai by creating better transport infrastructure in the areas around the metro.
The budget provisions will also improve connectivity in and with Thane and Navi Mumbai.
The budget has okayed 75 new train services, extension of service from Virar to Dahanu, 12-coach services on the
harbour line, among other things.
The fast corridors from CST to Panvel as well as the Virar-Diva-Panvel, which will connect to the Navi Mumbai airport, for instance, will have a huge impact if implemented in a time-bound manner.
“Mumbai has got everything that was demanded in this budget,” said Subodh Jain, general manager, Central Railway.
The mandate given to the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) to commercially exploit railway land in the city is expected to speed up upgradation projects, provided the MRVC uses the money to fund projects for Mumbai.
Trivedi has also asked the MRVC to commercially exploit railway stations. “A roadmap for the MUTP III has been prepared to strengthen and augment the suburban rail infrastructure,” Trivedi said in his budget speech.
Railway officials said the budget support would expedite the projects.
“We have already started a feasibility study on the CST-Panvel and Virar-Diva-Panvel fast corridor projects,” said Rakesh Saxena, managing director, MRVC.
Almost all the demands made by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan during his meeting with Trivedi earlier this month have made their way into the budget, except for permission to levy MUTP surcharge on passengers.
The minister has suggested that the financial model for the proposed elevated rail corridor from Churchgate to Virar “be executed through public private partnership (PPP) in coordination with the state government.”
The feasibility study for this project was announced in the 2008-09 budget. The report estimated the project cost at Rs. 15,500 crore. Trivedi said: “The project will enable the introduction of premium AC suburban rail services.”
The budget also okayed the feasibility study for an elevated corridor from CST to Kalyan.
In his budget speech, the minister said work for the double-line service from Belapur-Seawood-Uran is in progress and will provide connectivity to JNPT.