The ambitious Rs107 crore project for a third rail track from Mumbai Port Trust to Kurla, to speed up the transport of imported coal to power plants in Maharashtra, has finally taken off.
A couple of days ago, the Central Railway allotted Rs4.5 crore for preliminary construction works like minor bridges and approaches on the 5km stretch from Wadala to Kurla.
The project, which is being monitored by the prime minister's office, will help to augment the capacity of coal-based power plants in the state. It is expected to be completed in about three years.
Officials say that a third track will enable operation of more than the 15-20 freight services running on the section currently. These services also transport oil and chemicals.
The project is being undertaken jointly by the Central Railway, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and the Mumbai Port Trust.
Officials have expressed that it is a tough proposition particularly because it also involves rehabilitation of about 1.700 people who will be affected.
"The minor works should take about 18 months. But the rehabilitation of 1,700 people may be a knotty issue. If all goes according to plan the third line should be running in three years. It will be a great boost for the transportation of coal to be used for power generation," said a senior CR official.
However, this could be more pain for harried commuters on the Harbour Line, which is the fastest growing but least developed suburban train corridor.
Today, the freight trains from Mumbai Port Trust compete for space with the harbour local services operating through Kurla and this causes delays for both services.
Besides, at Kurla the freight trains have to cross over from the harbour line to the main line on their onward journey. It is planned to build an elevated station at Kurla on the harbour line, so that the freight trains do not hamper the local train movement there. With the third line project put on the fast track, it is expected that the elevated station plan would get a push also.
A rail flyover is planned for the local trains from a point north of Chunabhatti station to descend at a point south of Tilaknagar station and the elevated station will be above the current platforms number 7 and 8.
Length of third line: 5 km
Cost: Rs107 crore
Freight trains operating through Kurla daily: 15-20
Local train services on the Harbour line daily: 583