Western railway corridor gets PM nod

The railway projects in the city have got a boost as well as a setback.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh has given the nod for the Rs18,000-crore elevated railway corridor on the Western Railway from Churchgate to Virar. But, the railway board has rejected the Rs32,000-crore elevated corridor on the Central Railway from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Kalyan.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had reservations about the elevated corridor, considering the complex project as it would require a lot of changes in the central and western line.

“It appears that the PMO has taken a hasty decision without a proper debate. The project should have been debated at length before taking a decision,” said former Union minister Ram Naik.
Former Union minister and Mumbai member of Parliament (MP) Gurudas Kamat took special initiative to push the Western Railway’s elevated railway corridor with the PMO.

However, state executing agencies such as the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and urban development department have not even discussed the project in detail.

“We have not even held a preliminary meeting with the railway department on elevated corridor along the Western Railway,” said a senior secretary in the Urban Development Ministry.

The MMRDA, which is executing the two metro rail projects, is struggling to keep pace with the deadlines which had to be extended from 2010 to 2014 following delays in land acquisitions and removal of illegal encroachments along the project.

The Western Railway’s elevated corridor, which will take seven to eight years to be completed, is a joint public-private partnership project of the railways, the state government and private organisation. The coaches will be air-conditioned. “At the moment it is impossible to set a deadline of eight years when the basic home work is not completed,” said officials of the urban department.

Naik added that the inordinate delay in the project’s execution has lead to its cost escalation from Rs 3,125 crore to Rs 4,174 crore.
Meanwhile, almost 17 months after the widening of tracks from Virar to Dahanu, the railways are yet to commission the Churchgate-Dahanu direct local trains.


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