MUMBAI: Union railway minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday hinted at a direct train being planned between Mumbai and Alibaug in the near future. “There is a goods line between Alibaug and Pen, and I plan to introduce a passenger train on this section. Efforts will be taken for new station development along this corridor,” said Goyal at an event held at CSMT to launch several rail projects, including Parel Terminus. “Once Alibaug is connected to Pen, we can have the direct connect to Mumbai as Pen has a regular passenger service towards Thane/Dadar.”
Alibaug, a hotspot for beach lovers, is already connected to Mumbai by road and by sea.
Other major projects announced by Goyal included a new station at Chikhloli located between Ambernath and Badlapur, and approval for Rs 726-crore Kalyan-Murbad line via Ulhasnagar spanning 28km and for 180 escalators on Central Railway and Western Railway.
Rattling off statistics, he said that in 2013-14, the suburban section had just three lifts and now there were 78 lifts; also 16 were under construction and 174 more will come up soon. “Till 2013-14, in Maharashtra, just 650km of railway tracks were electrified. In 2018, we had surpassed 4,000km electrification and another 6,000km is likely to be electrified by year end. It is a major achievement.”
He added that there were just 16 escalators and 320 foot over-bridges (FOB) in Mumbai suburban prior to 2014, and the numbers have increased to 112 escalators and 129 FOBs last year. “While work on 38 escalators is in progress, I have sanctioned a record 180 escalators—115 for CR and 65 for WR today,” said Goyal. “Also,130 more FOBs are being built to give more emphasis on railway infrastructure and passenger convenience.”
“The Parel Terminus was much needed and will be a relief to thousands of office-goers,” Goyal said, adding that one-third of Mumbaikars travel by suburban trains daily. “It’s a mad rush during evening peak hours. We can barely stand after getting into a crowded slow train from Parel to travel to Thane, Kalyan and beyond,” said Shefali Rane, an office-goer.
The MoU for railway handing over 45 acres of land to the state for the Dharavi redevelopment project on a 99-year-lease was also signed at the event. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said: “With the railways handing over the land, it will transform the lives of thousands of Dharavi residents.”
Fadnavis said that the list of projects launched and sanctioned on Sunday was so long that when he was jotting them down on paper before coming to the event, it ran into more than two pages. “In fact, the entire list of our demands for railway projects across Maharashtra has been cleared by the Centre… This is amazing as we have not a single project pending for approvals by the railway ministry.”
Goyal said elevated corridor routes have been planned as per last budgets and there is a 360-degree holistic approach to introduce better Metro, Monorail and suburban rail connectivity in Mumbai in the coming months. “We have already completed Rs 20,000-crore worth projects and work is on for Rs 55,000-crore MUTP projects for which railway ministry has given its nod,” he added.