Mumbai: Capacity augmentation of suburban rail connectivity under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP)-III is expected to begin in the next financial year. Currently, the project has been placed before Niti Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India). Railway minister Suresh Prabhu, who inaugurated a foot over bridge and escalator in a function held at Borivli station on Monday, said, “The project is before the Niti Aayog for its approval.”

Once Niti Aayog gives its go-ahead, the cabinet will take up the issue, following which the government can approach the World Bank for financing the project, which is estimated to cost Rs 10,000 crore.

Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC), which will execute the project, has also begun the process of appointing a consultant so that detailed plans and drawings are in place once work is allotted to a contractor. An official said, “The World Bank will take at least six months to process the loan once the cabinet approves the project.”

The state government has already given its nod for the project, which will include augmentation of three lines.

One, the Airoli-Kalwa rail link project aims to provide direct connectivity between Kalyan and Navi Mumbai and will enable the railway to run 40 services between Kalyan and Navi Mumbai. The project can be completed in less than a year as there are no major engineering challenges or land acquisition issues involved. Two, quadrupling of the Virar-Dahanu corridor will help segregate mail, express and suburban traffic, thus opening up tracks to run more suburban trains. Three, doubling of the Panvel-Karjat route will help run more suburban services.

Meanwhile, MRVC has already done preparatory work for the mid-section trespassing control project and station redevelopment, also part of the MUTP-III project.

A senior official said, “We have learnt from the experiences of MUTP-I and MUTP-II. Hence, we have begun planning and pre-contract work much in advance even before the project has been formally approved by the board.”

The delay in sanction and execution in MUTP-II had led to an increase in the cost from Rs 5,300 crore to Rs 7,300 crore.

He said, “The delay was inevitable because of the absence of right of way and award of a new contract to Bombardier for electric multiple units (EMU) as Siemen’s, which has supplied electricals for MUTP- I, has been barred from bidding in World Bank-funded projects. Since Bombardier brought its own technology, it took time to get the design approved and rakes cleared by the commissioner of railway safety.”

Prabhu has already asked MRVC to shortlist projects for MUTP-IV so that railway infrastructure projects are not behind the curve as far demand and supply is concerned.

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Source: TOI-MUM