It is better to be late than never holds true for this year’s rail budget. The Railways has finally taken note of the growing need for improving connectivity and train services in the Mumbai metropolitan region.
Railway minister Mamataa Banerjee announced fast corridor on the Harbour line that connects Navi Mumbai and Panvel with Mumbai and an additional suburban line on the Virar-Diva-Panvel section.
Both these projects are part of the third phase of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP), slated to begin by 2016.
The rail budget also proposed a feasibility survey for introducing a fast line, which would boost confidence of nearly 10-lakh commuters, who travel daily on this section.
This Rs2,000-crore project was earlier scrapped by the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) due to lack of funds and inadequate planning.
“We did not send a proposal to the ministry in this budget, but had hinted at its need, especially after Navi Mumbai airport plan was approved,” said an MRVC official.
The survey will study technical and financial feasibilities of the proposed new lines.
The Virar-Diva-Panvel suburban line would connect the Western, Central and Harbour lines. Presently, there is only one track on the Diva-Panvel and two tracks on the Diva-Vasai (connecting Virar), which is used both by goods and passenger trains. The railway minister also announced addition to the existing diesel-run shuttle services on the Vasai-Diva and Vasai-Panvel stretches.
The budget has also proposed addition of a third line on the Kalyan–Kasara stretch. This section would cater to both suburban as well as long-distance trains heading towards Nashik.
Work on adding another line on Pen-Kasu and Panvel-Apta routes will be completed by March.
This would augment the trains coming from Konkan and down south. Before next year, Apta-Pen and Kasu-Roha routes too would get new lines, thus opening up the entire Panvel-Roha section further.