Western railway elevated corridor
|Western Railway Elevated Corridor|
|System||Mumbai Suburban Railway|
|Daily ridership||1.7 million (2019-20 estimate)|
|Operator(s)||Western Railway (WR)|
|Character||Elevated, underground and at grade|
|Line length||63.27 km (39.31 mi)|
|No. of tracks||2|
|Track gauge||5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm)|
|Operating speed||100 km/h|
The technical feasibility report for the project was prepared by Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) and the French firm Systra. On 23 August 2012, Western Railway (WR) invited more than 20 companies, including some infrastructure giants like Reliance infrastructure, Gammon, IL&FS, Essar, GMR and others to a meeting at Churchgate station.  According to Sharat Chandrayan, CPRO of WR, "The road-show was mainly to explain requirements for the project to prospective bidders and to understand their suggestions before bidding takes place". In October 2012, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) expressed dissatisfaction over the delay in signing of the State Support Agreement (SSA) between WR and the Government of Maharashtra. The SSA is the state's commitment to help Railways in land acquisition, shifting utility services on time and attaining more FSI to help developers generate funds. The PMO asked the state government to resolve differences and sign the agreement on or before 15 November 2012. In response to the PMO's intervention, the State Government set up a high-level committee to finalize the agreement draft submitted by WR and sought opinion from other stakeholders. WR officials blamed the bureaucracy for the delay. The delay is due to difference of opinion between the State Government, the Planning Commission and the railways on issues related to FSI, land acquisition, shifting of underground utilities and commercial use of land. WR demanded an FSI of five for 13 land parcels across the city, in order to optimise commercial development of its existing plots as major source of funds for the project. However, the state government expressed reservations in granting an FSI up to four, saying that it would permit need-based FSI only.
The project is a joint public-private partnership (PPP) project of the railways, the state government and private organisation on Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) basis.
On 9 April 2013, the Rs 21,000-crore Elevated Rail Corridor Project to link Oval Maidan and Virar got an in-principle approval from Maharashtra government. The Maharashtra government sought central funding for the Mumbai Elevated Rail Corridor Project, which is aimed to revolutionise suburban commuting in the city. In August 2013, the railway ministry issued new Request For Qualification (RFQ) documents for the project, about a week after withdrawing previously issued RFQ documents. The ministry had withdrawn the documents after realizing that the dispute between the state government and the railways over the signing of the SSA was frightening off potential bidders. Six infrastructure firms – Reliance, Larsen and Toubro, GMR, Gammon, ILFS and CAF Spain – had bought the earlier RFQ document at a cost of 1 million (US$17,000) each. A senior railway ministry official announced on 17 September 2013, that the last date for submission of request for qualification has been extended to 29 November from 20 October. He also admitted, "Unless the agreement with the state government is signed it will be difficult for the project to take off."
The PMO ordered a fresh traffic study for the elevated corridor in November 2013. In an infrastructure review meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November 2013, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan stated that there should be a rethink on the project as the proposed Mumbai Metro would partially be on the same alignment as the elevated corridor. The feasibility study conducted by the Indian Railways a couple of years prior had found that the elevated corridor would have a ridership of 1.1 million in the first year of its operations. The Railways commissioned Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES), its engineering arm, to conduct a fresh study as instructed by the PMO. Railways also postponed the last date for RFQ to 31 January 2013. According to a railway board official, the contract for the corridor will be awarded by May 2014, if the Maharashtra government agrees to sign the state support agreement (SSA), after the new report. The earlier date for awarding the contract, fixed by the PMO, was 31 January 2014. Eight infrastructure companies – Reliance Infrastructure, Gammon India, Larsen and Toubro (L&T), Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS), GMR Infrastructure Ltd, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF), Siemens AG and Tata Realty and Infrastructure have applied for the project. During the meeting, the state government clarified it would not permit a higher FSI for the project, and lobbied for its own Mumbai Metro project. The state government opposes the elevated rail corridor project, arguing that the proposed Line 3 of the Mumbai Metro Metro project between Colaba and SEEPZ partially traverses an alignment similar to the elevated corridor. Following the November meeting, WR commissioned RITES to conduct a study on passenger volume projections if the elevated corridor was allowed to operate only between Virar and Bandra. The state government had suggested that the corridor be terminated at Bandra, instead of Oval Maidan, because the proposed Line 3 of the Mumbai Metro would partially run on the same alignment as the elevated rail corridor. The study found that terminating the corridor at Bandra would result in an estimated loss in ridership of 40%, which would make the project financially unviable.
The 2014 Rail Budget presented by railway minister Mallikarjun Kharge did not mention the elevated corridor, drawing criticism from railway officials and commuters who had been following the project.
It will consist of a 63.27 km two-track elevated corridor running above the existing Western Line, occasionally going underground and at ground level. It was decided to go underground because of space constraints and extremely limited possibilities of expanding the rail network at the ground level on the existing route in future. The elevated sections will be 15 to 20 m above the ground, and higher at at Andheri in order to clear the new Mumbai Metro station. In underground sections the rails will be 15m below ground level. The corridor was initially proposed to go underground for 8.04 km from Oval Maidan to Mahalaxmi. Between Mahalaxmi and Borivali, the line will be elevated for 25.22 km and then at grade for 2.20 km. In the final stretch, between Borivali and Virar, 17.50 km would be elevated and 10.31 km would be at grade. Approximately, 42.72 km of the corridor was to be elevated, 8.04 km would be underground and the remaining 12.52 km at grade.
On 29 September 2012, following a meeting between Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and the Railway Board chairman Vinay Mittal, railway officials announced that a decision had been taken to alter the earlier alignment and go underground for an additional 8.5 km stretch between Bandra and Jogeshwari. The decision was taken to avoid land acquisition and rehabilitation of people who would be affected by the previous alignment as nearly 100 structures were in its path. This will increase the project cost by 12 billion (US$200 million). According to Mahesh Kumar, general manager of WR, the realignment would save money because he estimates that land acquisition and rehabilitation along the stretch would cost over 20 billion (US$330 million). As a result of the changes, 16.6 km of the corridor will now be underground, 10 km will run at grade alongside existing tracks and 36.4 km will be elevated. The underground sections include the 8.04 km stretch between Oval Maidan and Mahalaxmi, and the 8.56 km stretch between Bandra and Jogeshwari that was proposed in the amended plans. The at grade section, roughly lying between north Santacruz and north Vile Parle, is because of restrictions in height placed by the Airports Authority of India. The stretches between Dahisar-Mira Road, Bhayander-Vasai and at Virar will also be at grade. The remaining stretches will be elevated.
Initially, 26 stations were proposed. However, WR may cancel 3 or 4 stations to reduce cost and land acquisition. Stations that are situated close together or estimated to have low passenger traffic may be dropped from the plan. Matunga Road, Mahim and Naigaon stations have been proposed to be cancelled.
The elevated corridor is expected to take 30% of the load off existing lines. Western Railway (WR) intends to fund the project by commercially developing 130,000 square metres of land in 8 locations, of which five plots are Mumbai Central, Bandra, Andheri, Mahalaxmi and Borivali.
It was initially proposed to construct a maintenance depot north of Virar station, and four construction depots at Mahalaxmi, Jogeshwari, Mira Road and Naigaon. However, WR later decided to construct the depot on the sparsely populated western fringes of Mira Road, which has vast stretches of salt pans. This change in location was because the original plan would involve massive remodelling of the Virar yard, that would affect commuters on WR for several days. Central Railway had faced several problems while re-modelling the Thane yard and change its technical systems, between 29–31 December 2012. The decision to remodel the Thane yard resulted in cancellation of several trains for almost a week, and even the deaths of several passengers who fell off crowded trains. Since similar kind of work would be required to remodel the Virar yard, WR instead decided to terminate the elevated line before Virar, and make the yard at Mira Road. The Virar depot was planned to require 65 hectares of land, but the new one will require 40.8 hectares of land, due to a decision by WR to reduce the proposed number of coaches on a train from the earlier 15 to 8. Oval Maidan station will be integrated with Hutatma Chowk station on the proposed Colaba-Bandra line of the Mumbai Metro.
|21||Mira Road||At Grade|
|24||Vasai Road||At Grade|
The project is estimated to cost 200 billion (US$3.3 billion) and will be implemented through a public-private partnership (PPP) mode on Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) basis by a private entity. The Central Government will provide 20% of the project cost as viability gap funding.
The rolling stock proposed will consist of 3,660-mm wide air-conditioned coaches. The corridor will have emergency sidings so that trains can be reversed in case of an emergency.
- Services will run on this corridor for 19 hours a day from 5am - 12am. Trains will be available every 90 seconds and will halt at each station for 30 seconds.
- Trains will be able to transport 90,000 passengers PHPDT (Peak Hour Peak Direction Traffic).
- Trains will have an optimum speed of 100 km/h.
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- First step toward the Mumbai-Virar elevated 2-track corridor project
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