Hopes soar Metro size for Mumbai commuters

With the first set of rolling stock from CSR Nanjing of China arriving, the project has moved closer to its implementation.



The Rs 2,356-crore Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar 11.07-km Mumbai metro rail, once operational, will probably restore the confidence of an average Mumbaikar in the public transportation network's ability to meet his needs. Conceptualised to provide a link between the central and western suburbs — one of the most congested parts of the city — the 11.07-km elevated rail passes through hilly terrain and narrow roads dotted by numerous slums on either side.

A six-km bus commute costing Rs 6 from Ghatkopar West to Andheri West takes more than an hour and twenty minutes, and at times much more, depending on the traffic on the congested stretch. Alternatively, the rail connectivity is circuitous and involves switching to the western rail suburban system from the central network at Dadar. This is set to change. The journey time is expected to come down to 21 minutes once the new rail system designed to carry 40,000 people/hour/direction during peak hours, starts working. The rolling stock is from CSR Nanjing of China and the first set has arrived.

A YEAR AWAY

However, the commissioning of the elevated line is still a year away.Mr Lalit Jalan, Chief Executive Officer and Director , Reliance Infrastructure, which is developing the metro rail, said the civil work should be completed this year-end. Electric traction and signalling work have also been taken up alongside the construction. Approximately 40 million units of power a year would be needed to run the services.

The foundation stone was laid more than five years ago. All clearances are in place. Here again, R Infra has initiated additional paperwork to obtain all clearances from the Centre as recent guidelines mandate Central Government approvals.

On the ground, there are multiple issues. The route alignment is on perhaps the busiest roads of the city. Working alongside heavy traffic and ensuring no disruption, the developer has to bring in manpower and material, such as huge castings and girders.

This is beside a host of issues concerning the local populace living close to the road margins, complaining that the elevated rail corridor would deprive them of ‘privacy,' besides creating noise pollution.

CHALLENGING TASKS

The bridge to be built across the western suburban rail system at Andheri is another issue that is challenging, though all clearances including those from the Railways are in place. The traction power lines need to be switched off to take up structural work across the railway lines, said a senior official.

For this, the developer may get no more than a few hours after midnight each day. The western rail line carries almost two thirds of the suburban commuter traffic which is nearly 68 lakh a day.

Then there are a large number of underground utilities on the corridor that needed to be rerouted, besides the issue of crossing the Western Express Highway. Apart from this, there are demands from the locals to stop the construction of the Saki Naka station till the Ganesh festival is done.

FIRST OF ITS KIND

The project is said to be the first public-private-partnership metro rail project in BOOT framework, with the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority holding 26 per cent stake, Veolia Transport Co five per cent and Reliance Infra the remaining 69 per cent. The concession period of the project is 35 years — five years for construction and 30 years of operation.

The rail line will come up with 12 stations with a 16-rake fleet of four cars each, operating at a frequency of three minutes initially, which would be scaled up to 18 rakes of six cars each. The Mumbai Metro Master Plan has a total of nine routes spanning 146 km.

The Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar route comes under Phase I, which has two more routes such as the Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd and Colaba-Mahim-Bandra.

Fares are to be fixed by the Maharashtra Government and initial estimates indicate it would be Rs 6 up to three km; Rs 8 between three and eight km and Rs 10 beyond eight km, subject to 11-per-cent-hike every four years.

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