Barring the nominal fare hike, Mumbai's suburban commuters have many things to cheer about in the rail budget for 2012-13 presented in parliament Wednesday by Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi.
The chief among these is the proposal for an elevated rail corridor on the congested Churchgate-Virar suburban section of Western Railway. It was then railway minister Lalu Prasad who first suggested the corridor in 2007.
It envisages a double-track elevated corridor running above the existing Western Railway lines, occasionally going underground or at surface level depending upon the topography.
The height of the corridor is expected to be around 16 metres from the existing surface railway line, reaching around 20 metres at Andheri where it will pass over an upcoming Metro railway line.
Planned to be financed through a public-private partnership, the estimated cost of the 63-km-long line is Rs.15,500 crore. It would take off nearly one-third of the load from the existing suburban lines.
It will also pave the way for running premium air-conditioned services on the suburban network. A pre-feasibility survey for a similar 55-km-long elevated corridor on the Mumbai CST-Kalyan sector will also be taken up.
Besides, 1,500 new coaches would replace the aging ones on the suburban section, 75 additional services will be introduced on the suburban sector all Harbour Line services would be operated by 12-coach trains to enhance the carrying capacity on this sector.
To improve connectivity with Navi Mumbai, the railways are constructing a new double line on the Belapur-Seawoods-Uran sector which will provide a direct link to the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust.