Three key rail infrastructure projects that could largely benefit the entire Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) have been proposed to the Railway Ministry for inclusion in the 2014-15 rail budgets (under Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) III project) by Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC). The key projects worth over Rs5,300 crore are Virar-Dahanu (63.8 km) quadrupling, Panvel-Karjat (28.5 km) doubling, converting it in to a suburban section and Airoli-Kalwa (2 km) link which will help decongest the overcrowded Thane station by providing direct connectivity between Kalyan-Panvel section.
These major projects could change the whole ofMMR) by opening up the large mass of land for affordable housing.
If approved, these projects would make a huge difference to daily commuting in MMR by not only allowing faster commute but will also include areas like Chikale, Mhape and Chowk in the suburban network. This will also provide a major impetus to the realty sector, especially the affordable housing market.
“We have been pursuing all these projects since long. Of this the Airoli– Kalwa elevated corridor has already received an in-principal approval by the rail ministry. We expect it to be cleared in vote-on-account Budget or by the next government in the July budget. This is a crucial link and will ease the commute from Kalyan to Panvel. Similarly, conversion of the Panvel- Karjat link is also a priority,” said Anand Paranjape, Member of Standing Parliamentary Committee on Railways.
In a positive impact for the realty sector, Panvel-Karjat doubling would convert holiday home destinations like Mhape, Chikale and Chowk villages to first home destinations. It will provide scope for construction of lakhs of affordable houses in this section.
“Presently, this region is touted only for holiday homes or second home destinations, but a reliable railway network and suburban trains will change it to first home destinations. With even the state government planning to develop Navi Mumbai Airport Influence Notified Area (NAINA), the suburban railway would positively affect the realty sector,” said Rajesh Prajapati, president Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI)- Confederation of Real Estate Developers Associations of India (CREDAI) Raigad unit.
The Panvel-Karjat doubling project worth Rs1,401 crore will reduce commuting distance between CSTM-Karjat by 23 km, effectively reducing travelling time by 20 minutes. Currently, the CSTM to Karjat via Kalyan distance is 100 kms while the CSTM to Karjat via Panvel distance is 77 kms.
“Construction of an additional railway line will create better scope for the affordable housing segment. Similarly, conversion in to suburban section and faster connectivity to Mumbai will open up mass land for construction of lakhs of houses,” added Prajapati.
On the other hand, the 2 km long Airoli- Kalwa link worth Rs450 crore is the smallest but a vital project that would give immediate relief to lakhs of daily commuters who currently interchange at Thane station. The proposed elevated corridor would be constructed by connecting Airoli to the fifth and sixth line corridor (currently under construction) via Kalwa Parsik hill. This also includes cost of rolling stock (trains) to be operated between Kalyan-Panvel for additional services. Once formally cleared in 2014-15, the project is expected to be completed by 2018.
Rakesh Saksena, MD, MRVC, as per news reports said that construction of the Airoli-Kalwa link would benefit at least 1.5 lakh commutes who now interchange at Thane to reach Panvel or Kalyan. If sanctioned, this project would be a huge relief to these commuters and also help decongest Thane station, which is presently one of the most crowded stations.
On the contrary, the Panvel-Karjat doubling project will gradually decongest Mumbai by providing better land availability in the surrounding areas.
Presently, the Panvel-Karjat corridor is used by inter-city trains and freight trains and the doubling will enable running suburban services. As per news reports the MRVC chief added that doubling will reduce travelling time from Karjat to the island city and open up another stretch of land for development. Perceived as an affordable housing stretch, the Virar-Dahanu belt if provided with a third and fourth line will flourish even more. The 63.8 km Virar–Dahanu third and fourth line construction project worth Rs3,500 crore would facilitate railways in operating more suburban services in the section.
“Considering the easy access to Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway and Vasai-Diva-Panvel rail link, this belt already has huge potential for affordable housing. The two additional rail lines will give an added advantage to the section as more suburban trains could be operated. Besides, considered as a lifeline to Mumbai, the rail network will definitely boost the real estate sector in this region,” said Tejas Vyas, director, Oyster Group.
Currently, the railway operates 20 suburban services on two lines between Virar-Dahanu along with long distance trains and has eight stations including Vaitarna, Kelve Road, Saphale, Palghar, Umroli, Boisar, Vangaon and Dahanu.
The additional two lines will give space to operate long-distance trains and on existing lines more suburban trains could be operated. Of all the above stations Palghar and Boisar are the biggest realty catchment areas where the prices vary from Rs2,500 to Rs3,000.
“This sector is likely to remain a good affordable housing option because prices will not inflate immediately considering the large mass of land availability and developments taking place. If constructed, the additional rail line will mainly benefit commuters and then the developers,” added Vyas.
Sharing the same views, former Member of Parliament Ram Naik said, “Quadrupling of Virar-Dahanu section will have a similar impact that the Borivali-Virar section had a few years before construction of a third and fourth line. The suburban services could be increased and their punctuality can be also improved.”
After sanction from the railway ministry, the clearance from ministry of finance, Union Cabinet Committee of Infrastructure and Planning Commission would also be required for the projects to take off.
Salient features of key proposed projects
- The proposed elevated corridor between Airoli–Kalwa (2km) would be constructed by connecting Airoli to a fifth and sixth line corridor (currently under construction) via Kalwa Parsik hill. The cost expected to be incurred is Rs450 crore.
- This also includes cost of rolling stock (trains) to be operated between Kalyan-Panvel for additional services. Once formally cleared in 2014-15 the project is expected to be completed by 2018.
- This will facilitate about 1.5 lakh daily commuters travelling between Panvel and Kalyan who currently interchange at Thane station.
- Panvel-Karjat (28km) doubling project worth Rs1,401crore will enable the corridor to run suburban services.
- Travelling distance will be reduced between CSTM-Karjat via Panvel by 23 km.
- Existing suburban route CSTM-Karjat via Kalyan is 100 km while CSTM-Karjat via Panvel is 77km.
- Would provide a boost to realty development beyond Panvel by providing suburban train connectivity. Panvel-Karjat doubling would convert holiday home destinations like Mhape, Chikale and Chowk villages to first-home destinations. It will provide scope for constructing lakhs of affordable houses in this section.
- Will save energy because of the shorter route between CST-Karjat
- The 63.8km Virar–Dahanu third and fourth line construction project is worth Rs3,500 crore
- Will facilitate railways to operate more suburban services in the section.
- Currently, the railway operates 20 suburban services on two lines between Virar-Dahanu along with long distance trains and has eight stations including Vaitarna, Kelve Road, Saphale, Palghar, Umroli, Boisar, Vangaon and Dahanu.
- Construction of a third and fourth line will give a separate line to run long distance trains, while on the existing line more suburban services could be operated to meet growing demand.