While the Railway Budget announced on Thursday mentioned elevated corridors in the western and harbour lines, the Central line has not received any additional feature.
But the Central line passengers will benefit from the MUTP III, which aims to improve the local service on all three lines under which the city will be receiving 47 new rakes.
The third phase of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project — estimated to cost Rs 10,085 crore — has been granted a token allocation of Rs 5 crore.
The project includes quadrupling of the Virar-Dahanu Road on the Western Railway as well as a new double line suburban railway corridor to be constructed between Panvel and Karjat on the Central Railway.
In addition to that, there will be a new elevated suburban corridor link between Airoli and Kalwa. The plan also includes measure for trespass control on the mid-section of Central and Western Railway.
The third phase also aims to reduce fatalities due to trespassing and falling of passengers from the trains and take measures for decongestion of entry and exit points at stations.
The extension and creation of corridors aim at seamless travelling for longer-distance suburban passengers.
Under the previous MUTP phase, 72 new rakes had been allotted to the city, of which, only 25 have arrived so far, while the remaining are expected to arrive by July. Commuters had high hopes for additional trains to ease the peak hour rush but were left disappointed with the lack of new initiatives for the Central Railway.
“There is nothing new in the budget and Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has simply attempted to push for the completion of the old projects. The Central Line is the main line and has the second highest number of passengers in the three lines and even with the deaths of Bhavesh Nakate in November last year and Dhanashri Godave in February this year, no additional train has been announced,” said Subhash Gupta, member of the Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee.
He added that the passenger associations have long asked to bring down the frequency of the trains from five minutes to two minutes. The railway minister’s proposal included a mention of staggered timings for the government officials in Mumbai to ease the load on the railways stems from an old suggestion that the railway authorities had made to the Maharashtra government.
Recently, the Bombay High Court too had taken up the matter, asking the state government to see if office timings and weekly offs for the government employees could be changed to reduce the rush of commuters during peak hours.
While the state prosecutor told the Bombay High Court that the matter is under the government’s consideration, a senior state government official said it is not feasible and the government is not mulling over any such proposal. Soon after the Bombay High Court remark, the chief secretary’s office informed the state government’s organisation and the method wing, which looks into the administrative details of office timings and attendance, that the government is not considering any proposal to stagger office timings.
“Of the total number of people who travel by Mumbai suburban railways during peak hours, only about 1.4 per cent are government officials. So staggering office timings will not help,” a senior state government official said.