If all goes as planned, your daily commute from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to Panvel will reduce from 77 to 50 minutes by 2022 in an AC local train for Rs 68. The proposed CST-Panvel elevated air-conditioned rail corridor project connecting Navi Mumbai with the island city will be presented to the planning commission for clearance this week.
Following this, the Rs 15,000 crore proposal will be forwarded to expanded board of railways (EBR) for approval in its fortnightly meeting and then to cabinet committee of economic affairs (CCEA). It is expected that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is will sound the bugle for the civic polls in his visit next month, will officially commission this infrastructure project besides others.
For 10 lakh harbour line suburban commuters, this plan is an option of better and faster daily travel. Currently, it takes trains 77 minutes to cover the 55-km CST-Panvel distance with halts at 25 stations.
The railways has reduced halts to only 11 stations and travel time to 50 minutes. The railway minister Suresh Prabhu during his visit to the city this month had asked Central Railway (CR) to submit the detailed project report (DPR) with its comments to the Union railway ministry at the earliest for speedy approvals.
The railway ministry has also raised doubts over monetisation of land required for the project and operational maintenance cost involving spur link connecting to proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA). “Most of the land required for the project belongs to either state or railways so if it is made available for free then the cost of project will drastically reduce. Only a few land parcels are with forest department which need to be bought,” said senior CR official, requesting anonymity.
Regarding the operational and maintenance cost of spur link to NMIA, the official said, it will be decided only after it is made operational depending on the response from commuters. The 48-km rail corridor will commence from CST platform number 18 through P D’Mello Road till Dockyard Road from where it will be parallel to existing railway line up to Vashi. It will be aligned to Palm Beach Road up to Belapur and then again run parallelly with existing railway route to Panvel.
The railways plan to operate six-coach AC trains at the frequency of 5-6 minutes up to Nerul and Panvel initially. The coaches can be further extended up to eight coaches and frequency can be reduced to 90 seconds, said the official.