Railways may run AC suburban services in Mumbai


Mumbai : In the bouquet of budget announcements Railway Minister Lalu Prasad made for Maharashtra, the decision to conduct a pre-feasibility study to introduce an elevated air-conditioned suburban train service in Mumbai has attracted attention of the city’s seven million commuters.

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The proposal is to introduce the service on the Mumbai Central-Virar suburban section of Western Railway (WR). After establishing the financial viability, its implementation will be considered through options like public-private partnership (PPP).

By 2008-09, 300 new services are planned on the suburban section to ease commuters’ miseries. The trial run for issuing rail tickets, monthly season tickets and platform tickets on smart cards through PPP has already begun on Central Railway (CR).

The smart card scheme, to be commissioned by March, will be named “Go Mumbai Go”. The cards will be sold at railway stations, BEST bus depots and other convenient locations in the city.

Both Phases I and II of the ambitious Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) with the assistance of the World Bank are progressing well. The first phase of the project is scheduled to be completed by December this year and will be an important aspect of the ongoing Mumbai makeover projects.

The third and fourth suburban corridors between Borivli-Virar on the WR have already been commissioned for traffic. Latest technology electric motoring unit (EMU) rakes have been introduced on the suburban section.

The Rs.50 billion Phase II of the project will commence shortly and will be financed jointly by railways, central government and the state government and will be completed by the end of 11th Five Year Plan.

The railway minister has proposed new trains from different parts of Maharashtra to places like Amravati, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Howrah and Ahmedabad and extensions of three trains.

In addition, the work of the Kurla-Wadala Rail Link for Mumbai Port and Pen-Revas ports will be taken up on priority.

Mumbai and Pune are among 50 terminals across India, which shall be upgraded to augment their capacity. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai is among the few selected from all over India to be converted as world-class railway stations through global competitive bidding.

Two Garib Raths (air-conditioned trains with reduced fares) have been already introduced in Maharashtra, plying between Mumbai-Jabalpur and Pune-Nagpur.

Surveys for new lines will be undertaken at Washim-Badnera, Sholapur-Jalgaon and Rotegaon-Puntamba routes, while gauge conversions on the Billimora-Waghai section will be extended to Manmad and Jhaghadia-Netrang sector up to Nandurbar.