The Railway Budget 2011-12 was a mixed bag; it gave the state many reasons to cheer, but had nothing much on its platter for city’s seven million harried commuters. Their daily commute in overcrowded and overburdened suburban railway network will remain same tomorrow, day after and may be till next year. No hike in fares, however, has given Mumbaiites some respite.
The Union Railway Minister Mamataa Banerjee announced mere 47 additional suburban services, which is nothing more than four new trains. This is less than half of what was announced in previous year’s budget, when the city got 101 services, mainly on the Central line.
These new services have been proposed on the Thane-Vashi, Thane-Panvel, Borivli-Virar, Andheri-Virar, Bandra-Virar and Churchgate-Borivli sections. Thus this year, the distribution of additional services would happen mainly on the Western Railway (WR) and the Trans-harbour link connecting Thane-Vashi. Of these services, 40 are meant for the WR while the remaining for the Central Railway (CR).
Subhash Gupta, member, National Railway Users Consultative Committee, said, “The budget was quiet disappointing. It was nothing but a farce as they only proposed study of new lines.” The WR runs 1,210 services, the CR operates 1,573 services while the Trans-Harbour section has 210 train services daily.
Banerjee also announced conversion of 107 trains to 12-cars, but detailed bifurcation wasn’t announced in the budget. This would only mean that there would be 33% more space for commuters in each train. The Western and Central railways are running substantial number of 9-car trains — 243 services on the WR and 104 on the CR daily.
The WR has received around Rs14 lakh for extension of platforms at Mumbai Central to accommodate 24-coach trains, mainly more Rajdhanis and Shatabdis.
Around Rs1 crore has been allocated for the Train Management System that would be implemented between the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and Kalyan.
The railway ministry has proposed a feasibility study to see the possibility of having a fast corridor on the Harbour-line. A study to the same effect was undertaken on the CST-Panvel route, where seven different options were proposed but finally three were confirmed.
The ministry has also allotted over Rs400 crore for development of rail project in the metropolitan region. They have also allotted Rs1-crore for fifth and sixth lines on the Diva-Kalyan stretch. The CR is still struggling to get approval from the Commissioner of Railway Safety for the fifth-sixth lines on the Kurla-Thane section, while initial work on the Thane-Diva is underway.
Banerjee apologised for the delay in starting survey on world-class stations in the city. CST and Thane were proposed to be made into world-class stations in last year’s budget, but nothing substantial has been done so far.