Ahead of the Union Budget on February 1, commuters in Mumbai hope for an increased budgetary allocation for additional passenger amenities at railway stations and major railway projects including elevated corridors.
This is the second year when the railway budget would form part of the Union Budget.
Though major projects including elevated corridors and development of five stations were part of the highlights of the last budget for Mumbai suburban, additional foot overbridges and projects included under Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP)-III A may receive maximum allocation this year.
“As foot overbridge has become a safety item, details of budget allocation for the bridges may be included in the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) which forms ‘railway safety’ fund. As Mumbai suburban usually receives a major share of passenger amenities when compared to other suburban railways, it is likely that the safety fund could allot more for Mumbai suburban,” a senior railway official said.
Both Central Railway and Western Railway aim for additional 70 foot-overbridges by the end of 2018. Officials hope they would receive the complete sanction of the amount sought for adding amenities at stations.
In December, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had discussed details of 13 major projects under MUTP III-A aimed to add railway tracks and AC locals to the city. The project could receive official sanction through a token allotment in the budget, officials said. “While each of the other projects under MUTP III-A umbrella is important, we expect a special emphasis on improvement of 15 railway stations.
Improvement of stations, worth Rs 800 crores, will look at measures to decongest stations, provide elevated decks and ensure faster entry and evacuation of people from platforms. After the stampede at Elphinstone Road station last year, this project would be the most highlighted,” said a senior railway official.
Another important proposal sent by CR authorities last year was to develop the heritage building of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT). This would include restoration of the building and financial aid to develop the building into a transport museum.
“Rs 180 crore has been sought for preservation and development of the CSMT building. While Rs 85 crore has been sought for developing an alternative building on platform number 18 to relocate offices from the heritage building, officials have asked for Rs 45 crore for developing the building into a transport museum. We had already asked for an additional Rs 40 crore for restoration work,” said an official.
For the suburban section of WR, Rs 60 crore has been sought to increase the platform length of stations between Andheri and Virar to contain 15-car rakes. The project could be completed in two years, if sanctioned. Officials said the bullet train project, which received Rs 200 crore last year, could also receive a mention in the budget.
“Instead of announcing additional projects, a faster completion of existing railway projects must be aimed at. We have also asked for a separate division to look after the concerns of harbour and trans-harbour rail services,” said Subhash Gupta, member, Railway Pravasi Sangh.