After almost a decade of being neck deep in work, the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) has suddenly found itself in a position where there is nothing in the pipeline once its current projects get completed. Officials at MRVC said that the future looks a lot like its pre-2006 days when there was hardly any work and the corridors of the agency's Churchgate headquarters wore a deserted look.
For Mumbaikars, however, it is bad news because the MRVC is the nodal agency to implement some of the big-ticket projects for the suburban system in the Mumbai metropolitan region and as a senior official put it, a couple of years without projects for the MRVC is actually a decade without hope for the hapless Mumbai commuter.
The last leg
Some of the MRVC's big projects have entered the last leg and and are expected to be completed by the middle or end of next year. Since railway projects generally take more than a year to get off the ground, officials at MRVC said that unless both the state government and the railways move quickly, the city might see a slow-moving couple of years 2015 onwards.
The 12-coach trains for Harbour line
The 714 crore project is progressing satisfactorily and MRVC officials believe they should be able to wrap it up by March next year. "Work on some stations is yet to be completed and the big issue of CST. Apart from that we are on track to run 12-coach locals on Harbour line by the next financial year," said a senior MRVC official.
Extending platform number 1 on the western flank of CST is currently not possible because it would mean large-scale changes to the southern tip of the administrative building along DN Road. "We would need a three to five days block where both the Harbour line tracks will be shut down. It is a logistical nightmare but we will have to do it," said the official.
Extending Harbour line till Goregaon
With a small plot of land that was to be acquired for the project near Goregaon now in the railway's possession, this work too would end by March 2015. "Of course, Oshiwara station would not be complete but we can commission the line without Oshiwara. The project as of now is on track and slated for completion before the end of the financial year," said the official.
The 72 new rakes for Mumbai
The project which started with tenders being floated in December 2010 has progressed as far as to allow Western Railway to induct the first of the 72 Bombardier rakes anytime this month. The rest should be coming by the end of 2016, said officials. "Once the trials are done and the new rake is commissioned, the work of MRVC is almost over. Then, project involves routine production of the rakes at the Integral Coach Factory at Chennai. It doesn't require too much involvement of the MRVC," said an official.
The projects MRVC was pinning hopes on
The agency was under the impression that by the time these projects got over, the groundwork for some other long-term projects would have been completed.
CST-Panvel elevated corridor
Touted be the game-changer for commuting on Harbour line, the rapidly booming port area and Navi Mumbai, the project has failed to take off. "The state government and the MRVC have not discussed this project even once in the past six months. No one bothers about it anymore. With the Churchgate-Virar elevated corridor falling through, the CST-Panvel project has been relegated to the backburner," said a senior MRVC official.
Mumbai Urban Transport Project phase 3
The Rs 52,000 crore phase 3 was supposed to have charted out the blueprint for the expansion and rejuvenation of the Mumbai suburban system between 2011 and 2031. Three years hence, the project is still just a concept, and some game-changing projects like the Rs 7000 crore Virar-Panvel suburban line, remain on paper.
"The lethargy of the state and the railways on the MUTP phase 3 is the biggest disservice being done to the city and the 75 lakh people who travel on its suburban system everyday," said the official.
The only hope?
MRVC officials are looking at the forthcoming assembly elections with keen interest. With the current state government and railway ministry having been unable to see eye to eye on a host of projects, officials believe a change in guard at the state might also signal a change in fortune. "The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Centre has shown willingness to clear big projects far quicker than the previous dispensation. If a Sena-BJP government can do the same here in the state, or have better relations with a friendly government at the Centre, railway projects in the city could see a boom again," said an official.