While Central Railway authorities plan to stop a few more fast trains at Diva station for the ease of commuters from November, the line-crossing between Thane and Diva stations will continue to be a problem until the pending rail-over bridge (ROB) is sanctioned. The project, planned in 2013, has been delayed due to a host of reasons and remains a concern for the punctuality of services.
Last year, Diva commuters had staged a rail-roko to protest the delay in services demanding more trains from the station. Following which, the Central Railway took mega-blocks every alternate Sundays from September to complete work at Diva in order to facilitate stoppage of fast trains.
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While, railway officials sound hopeful that at least 24 fast trains could stop at Diva station after Diwali, the level-crossing at Diva which is opened at least 38 times a day still remains a concern. “The efforts taken to stop fast trains at Diva station is for the commuters to avail more trains and quicker services to and from CST. However, without the ROB in place, the level crossing which is mainly opened during the peak hours of morning and evening will further delay services on the route,” said Narendra Patil, Chief Public Relations Officer, Central Railway.
In January this year, the movement of trains on CR between Thane and Kalyan was affected for nearly an hour after some motorists did not allow the level crossing gate at Kharegaon to be shut. Though the requirement of an ROB near Diva station was pronounced in 2013, its implementation will still take at least two more years, officials said.
“We are facing a problem in the rehabilitation of individuals residing on the western side of Diva station which is primarily a railway parking lot. A side of the bridge will be erected on land which presently sees occupation of hutments. We have declared the land to be of use to the government and thus action will be taken on their clearance,” said Sunil Chavan, additional municipal commissioner, Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC).
More than Rs 35 crore has been sanctioned for the construction of this ROB whose plan design was submitted to railway officials for changes last Friday. Its construction will be shared between the TMC, which will handle the work of making the approaches (stairs) and railways, which will construct the portion that comes above the tracks.
“The design submitted to us showed an ROB being made exactly on top of the level-crossing which could prove to be a menace especially during its construction. Also, making its approaches will prove very difficult with the existence of level crossing. Thus, we have suggested the necessary changes in the design to the corporation,” said a CR official.
Officials confirmed that though its planning is in the final stage, the ROB will only be constructed in the next two-three years. A meeting for the same between railways and corporation will be held this week to discuss a future plan of action.
Nearly two years ago, Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu had declared that all crossing gates would be shut down on the Mumbai suburban section. The minister had also declared that a fund of Rs20,000 crore would be needed to build ROBs as alternatives throughout Mumbai including CR’s mainline, Harbour line and the Western Railway. Similarly, level crossing gates at Thakurli, Kalyan, Kalwa and Ambivali are opened 13 times a day causing delay to 80 to 90 trains by 10 minutes on an average on CR, which witnesses 30 lakh commuters every day.
“Work has begun near Vitthalwadi station for the construction of ROB. However, land dispute continues to be the main hindrance. For the FOB at Thakurli too, the construction work is in process. Both ROBs will be completed by next year,” a CR official said.
“Both state government and railway officials must be more serious in the faster completion of an ROB at Diva station as that remains the need of the hour. The fast train stoppage will be of no use until the level crossing is stopped. The work must be hastened,” said Subhash Gupta, Chairperson, Railway Yatri Pratishad.
On October 23, the final block was taken for the completion of work near Diva station after which platform work will begin near the station. However, completion of ROB near Diva station is at least three years away considering the huge train traffic congestion.