FIVE RAILWAY stations on the Mumbai suburban section will be among the 25 listed by the Indian Railways for redevelopment, as announced in the Union Budget presented Wednesday. The five stations are Thane, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT), Mumbai Central, Borivali and Bandra Terminus.
Through a public private partnership (PPP) model, bids would be invited from private players for the development of these stations. Redevelopment will include commercial exploitation of the station and developing them into hubs for multi-modal corridors.
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“Through PPP, Railways will be able to incur revenue by renting the station space for commercial use,” said D K Sharma, General Manager, Central Railway (CR). Ensuring cleanliness of the A1-class stations and making them disabled-friendly would be among the other major initiatives based on the budget proposals, Railway officials said. Outsourcing cleaning contracts for bettering cleanliness and utilisation of funds for making ramps, lifts and escalators would be looked into.
“Among utilisation of the Rail Safety Fund, introducing automatic door closing trains and providing double-discharge platforms and increasing the width of foot over-bridges will be the other aims. Focus will also be on increasing trespass control measures,” said G C Agarwal, General Manager, WR.
Track maintenance and rail renewal for Mumbai section will also receive maximum attention from the budgetary allotment from Rail Safety Fund with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore to be utilised over five years. The officials said works to improve asset failure and revamp maintenance schedule should also remain the motives. Officials said there was a 400 per cent increase in the capital allotment to projects of Maharashtra — from Rs 1,174.4 crore in 2009-14 to Rs 5,958 crore in the present Budget.
While commuters were content with the decision to retain the existing fare structure and waiver of service charges on online transactions, more details on major project completion or introduction were expected. Closure of unmanned level crossings and focus on including disabled friendly measures were appreciated. “Through no new project has been announced, it makes the department further accountable to complete the pending ones. More investment to segregate freight operations from passenger train operations is required,” said Vijay A, commuter. “Though 500 stations have been announced to become disabled-friendly on a war-footing, each railway station must be brought into the ambit. Also, no specific plan on how to reduce overcrowding in trains or railway-related deaths was discussed,” said Sameer Zaveri, a railway activist.
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