Monday, 12 January 2015

A cursory glance at the Western Railways' (WR) annual press release laying out a list of 'what to expect in the new year' will give any Mumbaikar an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu.

The 'what to expect' list of 2014 and that of 2015 have such glaring similarities that when it comes to some big-ticket projects, it looks like WR had done almost no work in the past year.

While officials put the blame on a slowdown in governance by the railway ministry in the months preceding Lok Sabha elections and at the state level in the run-up to the Assembly elections, others put it down to typical lethargy on the part of city-based officials to push the envelope. DNA gives the lowdown on WR's copy-pasted list:

Air-conditioned local train: Finds itself in both the 2014 and 2015 list. Current status is still as foggy as it was some months ago. Worst is that it was first announced in the Railway budget for 2012-2013, but it never materialised, thanks to neither WR nor the Railway Board taking any steps to speed up the work of finalising the design and procuring the materials. The railway ministry under the UPA government in early 2014 had announced that it would be commissioned by July 2014. However, officials had almost immediately called the announcement nothing but a political stunt in which the time required to come up with such a train was not even considered.

New rakes to be commissioned: This is yet another project that was listed for 2014 and now finds itself listed for 2015 as well. The two Bombardier local prototypes have spent the better part of 2013 and all of 2014 undergoing tests. The latest news is that they might be commissioned by January 26 this year if permissions from the commissioner of railway safety are in place by then. Earlier, during a press meet held in July 2014, WR general manager Hemant Kumar had said that WR was planning to commission the local by August. That didn't work out.

Elevated deck at Dadar and Andheri: Another repeat from WR. However the only difference is that in the 2015 list, WR has not mentioned the elevated deck at Andheri because it seems unlikely that the project would get commissioned even this year. "The Dadar deck should be commissioned by this year but the Andheri deck looks like it might take a long time. It needs the BMC to clear shops at the entrance of the deck and that is easier said and done," said an official.

Extension of Harbour line between Andheri and Goregaon: It was listed as new year gift for commuters in 2014 and now finds itself on the list of promises for 2015 as well. Helmed by the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation, its latest deadline in December 2015. However, the deadline is what one official called a 'touch and go' one and many officials dna spoke to said they wouldn't be surprised if the list comes up in the list of 2016 promises as well.

Oshiwara station: Listed as a 2014 gift, though now it turns out that the station might not even be ready by the end of 2015. MRVC managing director Prabhat Sahai during a press interaction on Monday said that even if MRVC completes the extension of Harbour line between Andheri and Goregaon, the Oshiwara station would not be commissioned by then.

Source: DNA India


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