Flagging off the city’s third Rajdhani Express, the first on Central Railway, Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said staggering of office timings can become a reality only if the state government and private companies come forward for discussions regarding office shifts.
He also said in the last five years, more than Rs 75,000 crore has been invested in rail projects in Mumbai, the highest such investment in the last 50 years.
To reduce rush on board Mumbai’s local trains during peak hours, in 2015, the ministry and the state government had come up with the idea of shifting work hours of private companies. The concept was that people can work in different time slots, thereby reducing the pressure on local trains during the peak hours. The government discussed the matter with the ministry and suggestions were made to alter office hours from 9 am to 6 pm to 11 am to 8 pm in some cases.
Goyal said staggering is not possible if private firms don’t come forward to alter their work hours. Maintaining that a similar experiment in the past did not succeed, he said: “When I become Railways minister, I proposed this. Unless people participate, it is very difficult to achieve this.”
Asked if this may be first implemented in government offices, Goyal said: “We had an initial discussion with the state government, but as yet, we have not come to the situation because government offices will have to available for the general public. We need more public participation in any such decision and more support from the private sector.”
The minister added that in the last 50 years, no government has invested as much for developing Mumbai’s rail infrastructure as has been done in the last five years. Goyal said this includes Mumbai Urban Transport Project 3 (MUTP-3) and MUTP-3A. While MUTP-3A has been given an estimated budget of Rs 49,000 crore, the figure for MUTP-3 is Rs 26,000 crore.
Projects under MUTP-3 include the critical quadrupling of the Virar-Dahanu corridor, Panvel-Karjat suburban corridor and the Airoli-Kalwa Link. The major projects under MUTP-3A include the elevated corridor of 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 green signal for these is a welcome step but funding options, including finalising alternatives such as commercial exploitation of railway land, are yet to be finalised.
Recently, MUTP-3A has received the green nod from the Centre’s Niti Aayog. Sources said that MUTP-3A will be jointly funded by the state government and the Railways. While the project had received clearance from the state on December 5, Niti Aayog received the project proposal on December 11 and approved it within two weeks. The final nod from the Union Cabinet is expected by end of January, said officials.
Meanwhile, Goyal flagged off the new Rajdhani Express from CSMT. The train will have special entertainment section for passengers of the First AC in the form of a virtual reality headset, a project developed by Google.
Chief Public Relations Officer Sunil Udasi said the new bi-weekly service will connect CSMT and Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin stations.