The Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) is considering seeking a loan of Rs 20,000 crore to fund major suburban railway projects that would increase connectivity and improve travelling in local trains. The projects form a part of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project-III A, the total project cost of which is around Rs 50,000 crore.
In the Detailed Project Report (DPR) expected to be submitted to the Railway Board this weekend, the railway body aims to suggest ways of generating finance for the multi-crore project. Commercial exploitation of railway land is among options being looked at. The major projects under MUTP-III A include the elevated corridor of Chhatarapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT)-Panvel, procurement of 210 AC local trains, improvement of 18 stations, suburban railway corridor between Virar and Panvel and cab signalling technology to improve frequency of local trains. The railway budget 2018-19 sanctioned a token amount of Rs 1 crore for MUTP-III A, meant to kickstart the work.
Till now, the MRVC has collectively taken a loan of Rs 3,352 crore from the World Bank to fund projects under the first and second phase of MUTP. If the proposal is sanctioned by the Board and Niti Aayog in the next phase, this could be the highest loan taken by a suburban railway body to fund projects. “According to the suburban policy, both state government and railways will equally share the total cost of the project. While multiple ways are being looked at, we are mulling a loan not more than Rs 20,000 crore to fund the railway projects under MUTP-III A. We may approach different banks including the World Bank for the same,” Sanjay Singh, MRVC spokesperson said.
“Two weeks back, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had sent a letter to the Maharashtra Chief Minister asking for five times the Floor Space Index (FSI) on railway land in the state. If approved, this could help finance the existing railway projects. As compared to purchasing AC trains, leasing them from the vendor could also be looked at. Taking loan would also be one of the suggestions,” R.S Khurana,CMD, MRVC said.
The DPR will be sent to the Railway Board which would analyse the suggestions made by MRVC to generate funds. “After the Railway Board, Niti Aayog will deliberate upon the proposal. If they do not approve the requirement of this loan, it could be abolished,” Khurana added. The MRVC has taken a loan of Rs 1,602 crore from a total project cost of Rs 4,452 crore for MUTP I and Rs 1,750 crore from Rs 8,087.11 crore for MUTP-2 A from the World Bank.
The MRVC repaid the loan for MUTP-I with a total interest of seven per cent till 2016 and expects to pay back the loan for MUTP-II A by 2028. “We would also need to look at ways on how we would repay the total amount. The state government has agreed to partially fund some of the major railway projects under MUTP III A,” Khurana added.