After 16 years’ delay, the much-awaited fifth and sixth lines between Kurla and Thane become operational for long-distance trains from Sunday. However, there won’t be any immediate addition to the number of suburban services since the Central Railway (CR) doesn’t have enough rakes (trains) at their disposal.
The new set of additional tracks are meant exclusively for long-distance trains originating and terminating at Kurla Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) without hindering the operation of fast local trains on lines three and four. In other words, all the 24 pairs (48 services) of long-distance trains would run on the new tracks, while there would be more space on the fast corridor for local trains. This would also reduce delay in services by at least a minute.
Lakhs of suburban commuters suffer daily as local trains are stopped to let a long-distance train pass by.
Speed restrictions of 25kmph will be imposed at Vidyavihar and 30kmph at Vikhroli. “Trains on the new section will run at 90kmph. However, due to residents opposing the new lines, there would be an unnecessary dip in speed at Vikhroli,” said a CR official.
The CR authorities defended the delay in the project. “The project had to cross many hurdles such as availability of funds, relief and rehabilitation of project affected persons and approvals from several quarters,” said Kul Bhusan, general manger, CR.
Talking about the suburban services, Bhusan, who also holds additional post of GM for Western Railway, said additional rakes could be run depending on their availability. “Our priority right now is to convert all nine-car rakes on the CR to 12-car by August 15,” he said.
These trains would be available once the Western Railway (WR) completes conversion from 1,500-volt DC to 25000-volt AC till Churchgate. The conversion is expected to happen in the next two months.
The next step for the CR authorities is to complete the fifth and sixth lines of the Thane-Diva stretch, which would allow long-distance trains to run from Kurla LTT till Kalyan.