Commuters may be in for a treat if the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation’s (MRVC) plan to revive the Ballard Pier-Raoli Junction (GTB Nagar)-Panvel route under phase-III of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) takes off.
The World Bank – which is funding the first two phases of MUTP – has clearly said it would agree to the route only if it were feasible.
“We will thoroughly study the feasibility of this route before agreeing to fund its revival,” said an official from WB on condition of anonymity. During World Bank’s recent visit to Mumbai, officials made it clear they would first study the routes under MUTP phase-III before thinking about future funding.
“We will review the projects under MUTP phase-III, which at present seem ambitious,” said World Bank representative Hubert Nove-Josserand during his visit.
It has been six decades since the Ballard Pier Mole railway station ceased to operate.
The MRVC wants to revive this line as it would be next to impossible to start a fast line from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Panvel as the line already has elevated steel bridges that are more than 70 years old. They have also presented a few options to the Central Railway, who are now carrying out preliminary studies.
As per a plan by the railways, the cost of a route between Ballard Pier and Raoli Junction would have required Rs 200 crore. There are tracks at Raoli junction, but they are currently covered by slums and grass.
MRVC sources said, “There are not many problems beyond Mankhurd, where an additional bridge has to come up for the fast corridor. Even congested stations like Kurla can be managed. The alignment up to Wadala is the one that needs to be worked on.”
The first option is to have an elevated route up to Mankhurd either above the present line or a corridor that would run parallel to P D’Mello Road. This will start from Ballard Pier, although the tracks might have to be realigned.
Another plan proposes an underground route up to Wadala but the cost factor would be three times the current approximate cost of Rs 3,000 crore for the fast corridor. “There is a possibility of having such routes. Preliminary studies are on,” said a senior CR official.
The third option is to use the empty plot of Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT). The existing rail line at Ballard Pier currently belongs to the MbPT, and connecting the Harbour line to it would be the biggest hurdle. “This would also be an extended process if the MbPT agrees to our plan. We can create an elevated route here as well,” the MRVC official added.
About 15% of the Harbour line is an elevated band. Also, construction of additional lines will also require of lot of restructuring and shifting of tracks passing underneath. MRVC managing director, PC Sehgal, said, “This project is at the planning stage.”