The Western Railway, for the first time ever, will be running trains originating and ending from Vasai, in what officials said, is the first step towards making the station a full-fledged railway terminus on the lines of Bandra or Kurla.
The WR announced the running of 12 Ganapati specials between Vasai Road and Ratnagiri from August 26 to September 9. These trains will halt at Panvel, Roha, Mangaon, Veer, Khed, Chiplun, Savarda and Sangameshwar stations, said WR officials.
With two termini, at Bandra and Mumbai Central, currently seeing 60-odd trains a day between them, and demand set to increase with every passing festival season, another terminal is need of the hour.
The WR general manager Hemant Kumar, in a press interaction, agreed that the time to think of a new terminus had come. "This city will need another terminus because our operations are increasing every passing year and the Bandra terminus and Mumbai Central will soon reach saturation point," said Kumar.
Kumar added that with the amount of land required for a terminus running into several hundred acres, the chances of it being anywhere within the city would be remote. "Studies will have to be done to find out where we can find a plot good enough for a terminus," said Kumar.
While WR officials refused to officially name any station as one that could be converted into a terminus, unofficialy, they agreed that under current circumstances Vasai looks to be the best bet. Last year WR had written to the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation to look at the prospect of making Vasai a terminus that can handle both long-distance and suburban trains.
"A terminus would need several hundred acres of land which is not available anywhere along the route except Vasai. Mira Road does have the salt pan lands but getting that would require lots of environmental clerances. Infact a plan to have a depot on the salt pans at Mira Road for the shelved elevated Churchgate-Virar corridor didn't make too much headway with the railways and state government because of the environmental factor," said an official.
Moreover, Vasai is on the connector line between WR and CR which runs from Vasai to Diva and allow trains from the north to cross onto CR or even Konkan Railway and onto the southern parts of the country. "This line would however require strengthening and a new corridor would need to be added to make Vasai a full-fledged terminal," said a senior WR official.
The consensus among WR officials is that since the work will require hundreds of acres of land and several hundred crore of rupees and since building a terminal takes almost over a decade, it is best that work on its feasibility starts now.
"This starting of long-distance trains from Vasai is a good start," said the official.