Rail freight corridor plan hits roadblock
The proposed elevated rail bridge connecting central and harbour lines has become a bone of contention between the Central Railway (CR) and the Mumbai Port Trust.
Eight months ago, CR had put forward a proposal to build a rail bridge near Kurla station, which would be part of the 5.66-km long Kurla-Wadala dedicated freight corridor connecting to the Mumbai Port Trust.
The dedicated freight corridor, which will link the Mumbai Port Trust area, via Wadala to Kurla, is estimated to cost around Rs 104 crore — this does not include the cost of building the rail bridge.
The CR had planned to build the bridge over the existing tracks at Kurla linking to the additional fifth and sixth lines — work on which is expected to be complete this month.
The bridge is expected to decongest rail traffic at Kurla, a major railway junction on the central line, and prevent delays in suburban rail services.
Sources said that initially the plan was to create a separate rail corridor for 18-bogies plus freight trains on this section.
“We have proposed a rail bridge near Kurla station so that there are no problems in operation of both suburban trains and freight trains,” said a senior CR official, on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
This means that freight trains carrying more than 4,000 tonnes of goods would have to climb the rail bridge.
“There could be a minor bottleneck at the crossing [where freight trains would meet the suburban rail lines after the dedicated freight corridor is ready], but it would be really difficult for freight trains carrying tonnes of cargo to climb a bridge. So, we need to look at its [rail bridge’s] feasibility before constructing it,” said Rahul Asthana, chairman of the Mumbai Port Trust, which is in the process of rehabilitating 1,200 project-affected people along the site.
Sources said that the port trust authorities would have to build this bridge because it falls outside the railways’ jurisdiction.
After the additional fifth and sixth lines on the Kurla-Thane section are ready, long-distance and freight trains would not affect suburban train network.
As part of the long-term plan, this dedicated rail corridor would be further extended up to Diva and then up to Vasai, thus the total extended line would be 77 km.