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Suburban trains to Pen planned

mumbai Updated: Aug 26, 2010 01:11 IST
HT Correspondent

If all goes as per plan, you would be able to take a suburban train to Raigad. But the timeframe depends on how soon Railway Ministry sanctions come through.

Central Railway (CR) hopes to create a new suburban section between Panvel and Pen, 78 km south of Mumbai, by electrifying the route.

As of now, CR’s Harbour line runs from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) to Panvel, ferrying more than 5 lakh commuters a day. This number will rise significantly once the new section is ready.

People travelling from Mumbai to Pen, 78 km south of Mumbai, switch to road transport after Panvel. This means a commute of at least five hours. With the new suburban section in place, travel time could reduce to as little as two hours.

The catch is that this suburban section will not be commercially viable until Konkan Railway, which starts after Pen, electrifies its 760-km route too. But this can’t happen until the Railway Ministry gives the go ahead.

CR also wants to convert Panvel station into a terminus in order to decongest CST and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus at Kurla. CR officials said this is an important project because of the special economic zones coming up in Navi Mumbai and Raigad as well as the international airport proposed at Panvel.

“We would be able to electrify the Panvel-Roha [in Pen] stretch only if Konkan Railway electrifies its section. If this happens, there would be seamless train travel [from Mumbai to Pen],” said Central Railway Divisional Railway Manager M.C. Chauhan. Another official said on condition of anonymity: “Only diesel engines run on the Konkan Railway beyond Roha. We can’t run suburban trains without electrification of that route.”

Roha, 66 km south of Mumbai, is an important industrial belt in Raigad district.

“The Konkan Railway electrification plan will be implemented only if the ministry approves it,” said Konkan Railway Deputy General Manager Siddeshwar Telugu.

Experts said that electrifying the hilly Konkan belt would a tough task. “Landslides could, in fact, increase in frequency because of the vibrations generated by the passage of high-speed electric trains,” said an expert.