Monday, 19 January 2015

The move to create a full-fledged suburban line between Virar and Panvel, one of the most ambitious railway projects in the city, has been shelved because of the Dedicated Freight Corridor and the Vira-Alibaug Multi-Modal Corridor.

The fact that the Dedicated Freight Corridor could decongest the Vasai-Diva line of freight trains and the Virar-Alibaug Corridor have a metro rail corridor, meant the Virar-Panvel suburban project was redundant.

Speaking at a press interaction earlier last week, Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation chairman Prabhat Sahai admitted as much. Answering a query on the Virar-Panvel suburban corridor, Sahai said, "We believe that the Dedicated Freight Corridor (being built between JNPT and Dadri near Noida in Uttar Pradesh) will ensure that the freight trains currently using the Vasai-Diva line shift to that. It will give us space to run suburban locals on the Vasai-Diva line."

The Vasai-Diva line currently runs 70-odd services, including diesel-electric operated local ones, long-distance trains from the northern and southern parts of the country and goods trains from the Jawaharlal Nehru port.

Sahai said that the Virar-Panvel project was no longer part of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) phase 3 which was given the go-ahead by the state government a fortnight ago after a meeting between railway minister Suresh Prabhu and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

The Virar-Panvel project was also hit by the 126km-long Virar-Alibuag Multi Modal Corridor. In fact, the most workable part of the Virar-Alibaug corridor — 79km-long Virar (Navghar) to Chirner (JNPT) stretch — will actually serve the same areas which the Panvel-Virar project would have done, said officials. These include seven growth centres in the Mumbai metropolitan region such as Virar, Bhiwandi, Kalyan, Dombivli, Panvel, Taloja and Uran.

The Virar-Panvel project has been a favourite of the railway ministry for almost a decade now and had also caught the imagination of the builder lobby which had started marking the areas along the route — like Kalamboli, Kharbao, Bhiwandi- as New Thane.

However, the railways' demand that the Rs8,000-crore corridor be financed by taxes collected by civic bodies along the corridor didn't cut much ice with the state government.

Source: DNA India


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