New high-speed train corridors planned to connect Mumbai with Pune, Nagpur
While the Maharashtra section of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project is stuck due to a delay in land acquisition, plans are afoot for new high-speed train corridors to connect Mumbai with Pune and Nagpur.
Maharashtra Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation (MRIDC) Limited, a joint venture of the railway ministry and Maharashtra government, is planning a semi high-speed train corridor between Mumbai and Pune which could reduce travel time between both the cities to 90 minutes.
Mumbai-Nagpur high-speed corridor
The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), which is building the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed train corridor (also called bullet train), has completed its ridership survey for the 753km Mumbai-Nagpur high-speed corridor project.
“The detailed project report (DPR) for the Mumbai and Nagpur project will be prepared. Finalisation of alignment is being done and social impact assessment and environment impact assessment are ongoing,” said a senior NHSRCL official.
The travel time between the two cities is expected to reduce by 50%. Presently, the fastest travel distance between Mumbai and Nagpur is 11.30 hours.
For the Mumbai-Pune corridor, a feasibility study has been initiated.
After conducting the feasibility study, an assessment of land acquisition required for the project will be done, later the project will be sent for approval to the government of Maharashtra and the railway ministry.
If the project is approved the travel time between Mumbai and Pune is likely to reduce to nearly 90 minutes. Presently it takes three hours to reach Pune from Mumbai by outstation trains operated by the Central Railway.
“The project is at an initial stage and a feasibility study is being conducted. Only after the feasibility study, we will be able to decide a further course of action.” said an MRIDC official.
“Justification for the need of a semi high-speed rail corridor between Mumbai-Pune and Mumbai-Nagpur should be taken into consideration. Both Mumbai and Pune are well connected and if a passenger wants to travel to Nagpur in a short amount of time, then they could just travel by an airplane. The pricing of the tickets also needs to be inspected. The projects should be cross-examined to check if they are really necessary.” said urban planner Sulakshana Mahajan.
Former railway officers opined that land acquisition in a proper manner was needed and also raised doubts about whether a semi high-speed train corridor between Mumbai and Pune will be feasible due to the Western ghats.
“Any high-speed train corridor will require to be operated at 320kmph which will not be feasible between Mumbai and Pune due to the ghat section (mountain pass areas). If the land acquisition is being done for projects, then the railway projects should serve their purpose. There have been instances wherein the landowner has not received the entire compensation, as middlemen are involved. Full compensation should be given,” said Subodh Jain, retired member of the Railway Board and former general manager of Central Railway.
However, the passenger associations have welcomed the move and have stated that the reduction in time will help passengers to travel swiftly. “When people travel between both the city by road, they get stuck in traffic and by railways it takes time. A semi high-speed train would help people to travel quickly and swiftly between the cities,” said Subhash Gupta, president, Rail Yatri Parishad.
Bullet train may miss deadline
Senior Railway ministry officials expect the state government to help acquire land in a short period to get the projects moving. They also think the push to other projects would prompt the Maharashtra government to help complete the Mumbai-Ahmedabad project faster. The project which is touted as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream project is likely to miss its 2023 deadline as only 30% of the required land is acquired in Maharashtra.
“All the projects including Mumbai and Ahmedabad bullet trains will be beneficial for the people residing in both the cities. We have acquired 30% land in Maharashtra and are hoping to acquire more land by the end of this year with cooperation from the Maharashtra government. The project will also create jobs in the state,” said a senior railway official, who did not wish to be named.
Urban planners have asked the railway authorities to study the requirements of the projects and conduct social and environmental assessments.
Meanwhile, the NHSRCL is also planning the Mumbai-Hyderabad high-speed train corridor for which it is undertaking finalisation of designs, operational plans including costing for the project.