Prabhu's unclog plan for Mumbai: Single transport body, stagger office time | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Prabhu's unclog plan for Mumbai: Single transport body, stagger office time

Prabhu’s plan to decongest Mumbai’s suburban railway network is ambitious: it envisages six-lane roads running below or alongside new rail tracks, all of it constructed above the existing lines spanning the city.

mumbai Updated: Jan 09, 2015 17:32 IST
Ketaki Ghoge

A road and rail corridor running above the existing CST-Panvel and Churchgate-Virar rail lines, staggered office timings and an integrated transport authority. Railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday proposed some new solutions for Mumbai’s old commute woes. But the jury’s out on whether they can be implemented successfully.

Prabhu’s plan to decongest Mumbai’s suburban railway network is ambitious: it envisages six-lane roads running below or alongside new rail tracks, all of it constructed above the existing lines spanning the city.

Prabhu presented the idea at a meeting in the city with CM Devendra Fadnavis to discuss long-pending issues. Besides, Prabhu proposed a standing committee for integrated transport solutions or an integrated transport authority for Mumbai where now multiple agencies call the shots. And, he called for staggered office timings in public and private firms so that the load on the suburban railway network could be evened out. Both these suggestions had first been discussed under Hindustan Times’ Unclog Mumbai initiative that culminated in a round-table conference with experts and authorities on September 2, 2014.

The elevated corridor is planned under long-awaited Mumbai Urban Transport Project III that the railway ministry plans to give the go-ahead to this year. What’s new is that instead of just elevated rail tracks, roads too will be built. It’s anybody’s guess how long will this take given the state’s track record in implementing big infrastructure projects.

“We are proposing two major elevated roads, one from CST to Panvel and the other from Churchgate to Virar. It was my idea that we should have six-lane roads running below the elevated track. This will reduce vehicular traffic considerably and also bring in a lot of revenue to the system," said Prabhu. He added that the railway ministry was examining the project feasibility and that Fadnavis was on board.

Railway officials said that instead of rail over road, it would be more feasible to have rail tracks and roads running parallel, with perhaps the roads not as wide as six lanes.

"There are so many multiple agencies in Mumbai from traffic police to BMC to MMRDA, so for an integrated transport solution instead of piecemeal ones, I have suggested setting up of a standing committee to screen and discuss all transport issues,’’ added Prabhu. This authority or committee would have members from all the state agencies and the railways, according to state officials.

Prabhu said that even if office timings were staggered by half an hour to one hour by public and private institutions, it could offer an out-of-the-box solution for the congestion on the Mumbai locals.

It was also decided to set up a special purpose vehicle between the railway ministry and the state government to implement all pending and new projects in the state.