Deemed as a project that could transform Mumbai's suburban railway system, plans for building the elevated rail corridor between Churchgate and Virar seem to be gaining speed.
The railways have decided to make the corridor between Grant Road and the 22-acre Oval Maidan near Churchgate station underground.
As per the earlier plan, the elevated track was to terminate at Mahalaxmi and then go below the ground.
However, during a meeting last week, the railways asked the state government and the planning commission for acquisition of around 15,000sqm of land between Grant Road and Charni Road for the underground corridor that will terminate at Oval Maidan.
As per the new plan, there would be an underground terminus beneath the Oval.
It was also at the meeting suggested that the elevated corridor terminate at Mahalaxmi and then commuters board the proposed Colaba-Bandra metro rail. "But we shot down this idea as it would have been a waste of money to build elevated track only till Mahalaxmi," said a senior Western Railway official on condition of anonymity.
Visualised as an engineering marvel, railway officials feel there is enough scope for the elevated track to come up to Grant Road. They also studied the option of going parallel to the existing railway lines on the road, but didn't find it feasible due to space constraint.
According to officials, nearly 800m of the elevated track would slope until the train goes underground from Grant Road.
From there, the trains would run 16m below the ground level. Power cables, water and gas pipelines and other utilities would be placed in the first 6m below the surface and the remaining 9m would be a void.
The railways have also asked the state government to make provision for shifting the high-tension power station between Dahisar-Mira Road. Officials claimed that it was obstructing the clear pathway for the elevated corridor.
The height of the elevated corridor will be about 16m from the rail line at ground level, reaching around 20m at Andheri, as it will pass over the upcoming metro rail.
However, no decision on the funding of the Rs17,000-crore project has been taken. "There is scope for funding it through public-private participation model. The state government showed interest for such a model during the meeting," said Gajendra Haldea, advisor (infrastructure), planning commission.
The nine or 12 coach air-conditioned trains on the elevated track will have a capacity for over 75,000 commuters per hour. The project was first announced in the 2008 railway budget .by then minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.