Western Railway has begun a passenger survey to establish the need for an elevated corridor from Churchgate to Virar, which is on the verge of being shelved. The state had raised doubts about its feasibility as the MMRDA has already invited tenders for the Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro III corridor.
Following a meeting between chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on November 13, it was agreed that a fresh study would be conducted taking into account the traffic capacity being created by the new Mumbai Metro line which is partially on the same alignment.
A senior WR official said, “Preliminary survey has revealed that there will be no impact on the number of passengers even if the alignment of Metro and the elevated railway corridor is close to each other on a limited stretch.”
On an average, WR carries 35 lakh commuters per day. The official said, “The raw data from sale of all modes of ticketing reveals that around 11 lakh commuters board the suburban train between Virar and Bandra. Of these, nearly 40% commuters travel to south Mumbai and alight at stations between Dadar and Churchgate.”
The railway official said a detailed study would take at least a month to complete. But the traffic figures were unlikely to change drastically, he emphasized.
WR is also making a case to prove that both systems can work effectively even if the alignment is similar on a certain stretch.
A Western Railway official said, “Mahalaxmi Metro and Mumbai Central Metro stations are considered interchange stations from Churchgate. However, while the former is 400 metre away, the latter is 600 metre away. For Bandra commuters, the closest Metro station is likely to be Dharavi Metro station, which should not be less than 1 km.”
The official further said, “Metro III is only up to Seepz, while WR will take care of commuters right up to Virar. Our experience indicates that commuters always prefer to use direct mode of transport rather than break their journey to reach their destinations, unless absolutely necessary.”
The state has suggested that the cash contract should be considered instead of public-private-partnership, which allows the concessionaire to recover cost and earn profit through commercial exploitation of land parcel and air space above stations.
A WR official said, “The planning commission, railway board as well as the Prime Minster’s Office prefer to develop the elevated rail corridor. We should at least give the PPP model a try. If there are no bidders, we can always go ahead with a cash contract model but there will be huge burden on loan, which will then reflect on the tariff.”