After the Railway Board questioned the need for the CST-Kalyan elevated corridor proposed by the Central Railway, questions are being raised over the feasibility of the three elevated corridors that railway authorities have scoped for.
Transport experts say the elevated corridors are ambitious, but are unlikely to solve Mumbai's mass transport woes. There are three main reasons for this, they say. First, what the city desperately needs is mass transport connectivity linking the east-west suburbs. Second, the corridors will not be ready any time soon, which means that the pressure on the north-south transport system will not be eased in the near future. Third, the corridors are targeted chiefly at commuters who can afford to pay Rs 50 to Rs 100 for an air-conditioned commute on the elevated train lines.
"Railway authorities haven't thought about the city's needs at all while planning the elevated corridors," said transport expert Ashok Datar. "Recent census figures have shown that the population of Mumbai has gone down in the last decade. Have rail authorities considered this," he added. Datar said that there was little chance that the burden on roads will be reduced even after these projects come up. He also alleged that these projects are being undertaken only for developing open spaces and getting more FSI, which is "criminal". Raising doubts if the working class will able to afford the elevated corridors, he suggested solutions like shifting Mantralaya to the north of the city, where it will be more accessible.
"As a mass transport option, one should support elevated corridors," said transport expert Ajit Shenoy. However, with such huge projects, small value projects such as BRTS should be taken up for immediate relief, he said.
A senior railway official said the CSTM-Panvel elevated corridor was needed. He said that all modern airports have integrated transport system like metro connectivity. The proposed CSTM-Panvel corridor is along similar lines, he said. Navi Mumbai is the center of growth in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, and there is a need for another transport line to ease pressure off the Harbour line, he added.