There's a ray of hope for commuters on the Kalyan-Kasara route — one of the most congested rail routes in the country — as the much-delayed plan to lay a 3rd line between the two stations is finally taking off.
The Central Railway has allotted Rs35 crore to build seven major bridges on the route. These bridges and the remodelling of a road overbridge between Thakurli and Dombivli are the most important facets of the project, following which the 3rd line can be built on the 67km stretch.
At present there are only two lines on the Kalyan-Kasara route. A huge number of suburban trains compete with a host of long-distance trains moving towards Nashik and then towards the northern and eastern parts of the country. This is in addition to the 20 freight trains that take up space on the twin lines.
As per CR records, 147 suburban trains run on these routes. Of these, 34 are to Kasara, 39 to Aasangaon and 74 to Titwala. "The passenger load to Titwala, Asangaon and Kasara is growing phenomenally. There is a lot of construction going on in that area," a senior CR official said. "The need for a 3rd line was felt at least a decade ago. But it is better late than never."
In addition to these suburban trains, there are 71 long-distance trains that use 49 paths or departure slots every day on these lines to go to places like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Kolkata and the North-east. "All these trains compete with the suburban trains for slots, which makes it a very congested route.
The third line will take away some load from these two lines," the official said.
The project got delayed because the railway ministry kept dilly-dallying, as some officials put it, unable to understand or estimate the growth in population and in turn passenger density of the metropolitan regions surrounding Mumbai.
The CR first proposed the 3rd line project to the railway board in 2009. The estimated cost at that time was Rs252 crore. Going by the current rate, it will cost more than Rs600 crore to completed the project, the official said.
"The idea is to build the bridges and modify the road overbridge over the next 30 months and then start work on the rail line as and when funds come in," he said. "If all goes according to plan, the 3rd line should be ready for use in the next three to four years."
Number game on Kalyan-Kasara route
Suburban trains: 147
Long-distance trains: 71