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Mumbai locals stuck in the '80s, overhauling ailing suburban rail system top priority: Piyush Goyal

We are working on how can we rapidly scale up supply of facility for suburban commuter, said Goyal

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Mumbai locals stuck in the '80s, overhauling ailing suburban rail system top priority: Piyush Goyal
Railways Minister Piyush Goyal (inset) said at a conference in Mumbai that he had travelled extensively in the locals in his younger days
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Two weeks after taking charge as railway minister, Piyush Goyal feels that the Mumbai's suburban railway is the same as it was in 1980s when he was travelling in local trains. On September 19, while speaking at at the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce conference, Goyal said improving the suburban system is at the top of his list.

"We are working on how can we rapidly scale up supply of facility for suburban commuters. Mumbai is on top of my priority list," said Goyal, who also met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday night.

The rail minister joked he did not know why he was given the rail portfolio, and it was probably because someone informed the Prime Minister that he had travelled in local trains between 1979-87.

Faster trains, track renewals

The rail minister promised that in addition to starting bullet trains on more routes than just the Mumbai-Ahmedabad stretch, the ministry would focus on improving existing trains. The Indian Railways is planning a third Mumbai Central-Nizamuddin Rajdhani Express that would cover the distance within 13 hours. Sources said it would start before Diwali.

At present, the Rajdhani takes 16 hours on the 1,377-km route. Two engines could be added to a 24-coach Rajdhani or 14-coach trains would be run to augment speed.

Goyal defended his predecessor, Suresh Prabhu, sayiong he invested in rail safety in the last three years, and stressed the need to improve deterioarting rail infrastructure.

"The infrastructure has become sick as track renewals have not happened for years. The rail fractures has not happened overnight but because of neglect over the years," added Piyush Goyal.

Meeting with CM

Sources said that at the four-hour meeting attended by Goyal, CM Fadnavis, and railway and civic officials, the two ministers asked the authorities to maintain the network. Rail officials said they had been asked to reduce overcrowding and prevent trespassing – 10 people die daily on rail tracks due to these factors – and raise height of platforms.

The CR and WR have been asked make plans to augment train services on the CSMT-Thane and Churchgate-Borivili stretch. Currently the two routes are saturated.

The ministers also discussed how the state government can help in clearing encroachments and acquiring land for the Rs 11,000-crore Mumbai Urban Transport Project-3, which focusses on the Virar-Dahanu Road stretch, a new suburban corridor from Panvel to Karjat, and an elevated suburban corridor from Kalva to Airoli.

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