With ‘local’ as railway minister, city can expect goodies

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 27 Desember 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Next year may prove to be a landmark and path-breaking one for Mumbai's suburban railways. Suresh Prabhu's elevation as Union railway minister may not only help expedite capacity expansion projects but will also improve the efficiency of suburban train operations on Western and Central Railway.

Trials of a fully air-conditioned suburban rake may begin by March. The feasibility report for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed corridor also expected to be submitted by May 2015. Thereafter, the government will speed up the projects to bring their status from the drawing board to execution.

A senior WR official said, "The railways has very peculiar way of doing things. It devotes maximum time, energy and resources to the city or state from where the railway minister hails from. For bureaucrats in Delhi, suburban operations in Mumbai are like a small dot on a vast canvas even though it is the engine of growth, being the lifeline of the city."

Prabhu has expressed his intention to the go vertical, to create additional corridors. A WR official said, "The board has invited foreign direct investment (FDI) for the CST-Panvel high-speed corridor. We can expect movement on the Churchgate-Virar elevated corridor too."

Mumbaikars have been awaiting the fruits of projects that were scheduled by 2015. However, none has seen the light of the day due to lack of coordination between the railways and state government, or a delay in getting approval from the board in Delhi.

A CR official said, "Within weeks of Prabhu's appointment, we decided to test-charge the 25KV AC traction between CST-Thane. We can hope to see full conversion to AC traction on the Main line in a few months. This will allow the railways to discard old and inefficient rakes for modern and faster ones."

The AC conversion may not mean much if the Bombardier rakes, scheduled to run by now, do not come quickly. An MRVC official said, "The blame lies with the railway brass in New Delhi. They should ensure faster clearance. The delay is embarrassing."

The board has sanctioned the fifth and sixth lines between Kurla-CST. But due to land acquisition problems, it will originate from Parel, which will get upgraded as a terminus. The project is expected gain pace as the state and central government seem to be on the same page, an official added.

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