Mumbai elevated rail corridor snippets

The technical feasibility study of the ambitious elevated rail corridor between Churchgate and Virar shows that the entire 60 kmstretch will not be above ground as initially planned. Instead, it will be underground for 6 km between Churchgate and Mahalaxmi. For two stretches — 4 km from Santa Cruz to Andheri, and 8 km from Vasai to Virar — the corridor will be a surface track, using the existing network. The remaining 42 km covering the stretches from Mahalaxmi to Santa Cruz, and Andheri to Vasai Road will be elevated, said highly placed sources in the railways. “In the Santa Cruz-Vile Parle section, we will build extra lines on the surface. An elevated corridor may interfere with flights as the airport is situated there,’’ said the source. The corridor of two slow lines, in an ideal situation, will come at a cost of Rs 100 core per kilometre, bringing the estimated burden to around Rs 6,000 crore. Starting at Churchgate, the train will stop at Charni Road, Mumbai Central, Dadar, and then all stations till Virar. According to officials, the maximum height of the elevated corridor will be 20 metres — rail to rail level — and will reach its highest point at Andheri. The initial blueprints of the project include an elevated concourse and booking office with stairs and escalators taking commuters to platforms situated at a higher level. The entire structure will be at three levels: the existing railway system, the concourse and the elevated corridor. The service will be closed-door, air-conditioned broad gauge trains with a maximum length of 15 coaches. When operational, it will take a capacity load of 90,000 passengers off the existing lines, per hour, during peak commuting periods. What makes this project unique, said the official, is that the construction technology has never been used in India to date, and until recently, was “considered impossible”. It will have a capacity that is eight times more than that of the Metro rail. The ministry of railways has awarded the feasibility and financial consultancy to RITES and the French company, Systra. “The technical feasibility study is being scrutinised at the Railway Board (RB) level. Dialogue between Western Railway and the RB is continuous and certain observations will arise,’’ he added. The project is on the fast track and talks on the design feasibility is on the cards. “We will hire a consultancy for financial and legal feasibility studies. Only after all studies are completed can tenders to carry out the project under Public Private Partnership be opened,’’ said the official, adding that it will take six months to wrap up all the studies. The Indian Railways is looking at multilateral funding, as there will be eight to ten government bodies involved in the project. “The company may run into losses, and we will decide who bears them,” the official said. Discussions with stake holders like the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are going on as the underground parts of the project will call for an alteration of pipelines, sewer line and power cables. The railways will provide logistics like land and power supply and viability gap funding. But officials have a massive ‘problem’ on their hands, crowd dispersal. “The purpose of the system will fail if we cannot tackle crowd dispersal. As all exits will ultimately be the same, a concrete dispersal system is a priority,’’ said the official. He added that the project should gel with the overall master plan of Mumbai. “You cannot add any new kind of infrastructural transportation system on the surface.’’ Commuters, however, will have to wait a while as the project is still in its nascent stage. It will take two to three years for work on the corridor to begin, and another decade to complete it.

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