Churchgate-Virar elevated network gets state nod

Project could cost over Rs 15,000 crores


Geetanjali Minhas | July 12, 2011

The planning commission and Maharashtra government gave an in-principle approval for the air-conditioned, elevated Churchgate-Virar suburban rail network last week.

The 60 km long rail line is scheduled for completion in 2019. It will have stations at three levels: underground, ground and elevated.

According a western railway official, the cost of the project is estimated to be around Rs 15,000 crore and may escalate due to delays and inflationary pressures.

A feasibility study prepared by Systra, a US railway consultancy firm has been submitted to the central railway board.“The Planning Commission’s approval is necessary if the project cost goes beyond Rs 1,000 crore .Though the planning commission has granted an in-principle approval, it has yet to formally convey it to the railway ministry” an official said.

According to Sharat Chandrayan of western railways, the track will run underground between Churchgate and Mahalaxmi and then get elevated upto Santacruz station. Between Vile Parle and Andheri, the track will run on ground level alongside the existing track as this area falls in the funnel area of aircraft - both domestic  and international and airports are located a few kms away from the railway tracks.

Beyond Andheri and Dahisar,the track will be elevated  and later run at ground level at Mira Road, but will again be elevated just before Bhayander. The tracks will come down to ground level between Naigaon and Vasai and again be elevated from Vasai Road till Virar.

The ground level corridor will cost approximately Rs 10 crore per kms.  For construction of elevated corridor depending on the height, which could be 15 to 20 meters the cost will be Rs 50 crore to Rs 100 crores.There are 25road over bridges on western railway and the elevated track will rise to a height of 20 meters on such spots along this corridor.

The underground route will be the costliest at Rs 100 crore per km. Western railways is considering  two routes for the underground stretch: either Grant Road to Oval Maidan or Mahalaxmi to Churchgate.

The elevated track will come up on piers which that will be constructed between existing tracks. For underground routes the railways may build underground tunnel or use cut-and–cover technology.

“The decisions will be subject to soil testing and cost factors.Location and number of stations are yet to be finalized as land availability, connectivity with modes of transport and commuter load  will have to be considered” said Chandrayan, adding, “We fear opposition from people staying close to the railway tracks. They may oppose the projects due to noise pollution or fearing structural damages to their flats."

While admitting that construction of elevated line may affect normal train services he said, “Building supporting pillars will not be a major issue but progressing ahead without affecting normal services will be a major task.”



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