Mumbai accounts for 33% of travellers on the Indian Railways daily and contributes a sizeable amount of revenues. Still, three critical projects to decongest travel on the suburban network are awaiting sanction for some months now and there is no official explanation for the delay.
The plan for modification of Central Railway’s Parel station into a terminus was expected to get the nod from the Railway Board last month, but there is no word about why it has not been cleared yet.
TheRs80 crore project would help to better cope with the surge in traffic in the business hub and take pressure off Dadar junction in two years.
“If approval comes in, work can start. Funds would also be allocated in the next budget. But without approval, the project may not get allocation and could drag for another year,” said a senior railway official.
Another important project held up at the railway ministry is purchase of 490 automatic ticket vending machines on Western Railway.
This work has become urgent after WR decommissioned more than half of the 195 ATVMs in October as their lifespan was over. About 5% of ticket sales daily were done through these machines.
The new machines are required to reduce the long queues at booking windows. Today, the suburban network carries about 75 lakh commuters, of which about 35 lakh are on the WR.
The third project is the energy-saving DC to AC conversion programme on the Central Railway that is incomplete. The work planned from Igatpuri to Pune and onwards up to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) at a cost of Rs1,299 crore has progressed only till Kalyan.
The conversion work was halted last month by Chetan Bakshi, commissioner of railway safety (CRS), central circle, who has demanded an investigation into the steps taken to prevent rooftop deaths.
Work pending includes the Kalyan-Thane, Thane-CST and Harbour Line stretches. According to railway officials, the matter would have to be taken up by the railway ministry with the civil aviation ministry as the CRS is under the aviation department. Consequently, the work is unlikely to be completed by the March 2014 deadline.