The railways are wondering how to implement Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee’s grand plan of connecting the Churchgate and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) stations by rail.
Not because they are incapable of doing it but because several other projects have already been planned by other government agencies at these two locations. This means there is little space left for Banerjee’s idea.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) has planned the third metro rail line from Colaba to Bandra that might pass through Churchgate.
The MMRDA has already appointed the Louis Berger Group for carrying out a feasibility study for this project.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has proposed an elevated green walkway between Churchgate and CST.
“Projects that have already been approved get an upper hand than projects in the pipeline,” said a senior Western Railway (WR) official. “Technically, this leaves little room for the rail connectivity project.”
Officials believe that it practically is difficult to implement the project. “We cannot have an underground line because there are too many underground utilities blocking the way,” said the official requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
“We can’t go elevated as CST and other areas are heritage locations.”
Plans to connect CST with Churchgate by rail were first made 30 years ago. More than two interim reports have been submitted over the years asking the railways to try this project at a cost as high as Rs 750 crore.
But now that the railway minister herself has asked for it, yet another study will be commissioned.
“RITES will conduct a study to determine the feasibility of this project,” said Western Railway, General Manager, R N Verma. It will take at least a year for the study to be completed.
The rail link was supposed to ensure a train every minute instead of the current frequency of one train every three minutes.