With at least three major infrastructure projects on the suburban railway section behind schedule, commuters may not get respite till 2020.
The projects include construction of the fifth and sixth rail lines between Diva and Thane, and Kurla and Parel, along with construction of road overbridges at Diva, Kalwa, Kalyan, Thakurli and Ambivli to avoid delays owing to level-crossing. Moreover, the procurement of new trains, too, has been delayed, thus affecting the maintenance work.
“Even a slightest technical fault or delay because of level-crossing has a cascading effect on all trains. We don’t have sufficient spare rakes (trains),” said a senior railway official, requesting anonymity.
The fifth and sixth lines were to be ready by 2013. However, the projects are likely to be complete by December 2017 (Diva-Thane) and 2019 (Kurla-Parel). The city was to get 72 new suburban trains by 2012, the deadline for which has been pushed to December 2016.
“Some encroachments on the Diva-Thane stretch have been removed. We are likely to complete the work by December 2017. However, there are a few more encroachments in Rana Nagar area. All new trains should arrive by the end of this year,” said Prabhat Sahai, chairman and managing director, Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation Limited (MRVC), which is executing the project.
The completion of the projects would give two new lines for long-distance trains. This would make the local train operations smoother and also make addition of new services possible. Currently, the CR operates 838 suburban services on the main line and caters to 30lakh commuters.
Commenting on the removal of the level-crossing gates at Diva and Kalwa, Sajeev Jaiswal, commissioner, Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) said, “We will start work on the road overbridge and demolition drive to remove encroachments after the monsoon.”
Prasad Thakur, public relations officer, Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC), said, “The construction of Thakurli flyover has started in July.”