Mumbai: Commuters on the Western Railway (WR) will continue to suffer delays and almost no new services will run due to the interference of long-distance trains on the local line as the Mahim derailment has upset the plan for the 5th and 6th line.
These lines were planned to run long-distance trains exclusively, thereby freeing up the current space for the local trains. But, after the derailment, the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) has asked WR to correct mistakes made in the Mahim Yard remodelling, and officials fear that their work just got more complicated, delaying the 5th and the 6th line.
The corrections in the Mahim yard requires require the Railways to change the plans for both the lines for which Mahim is an important junction. The CRS’ corrections would necessitate land procurement, an official said, “We’d have to take land from the BMC for the Khar-end of Mahim yard while the King’s Circle end would require us to acquire some privately owned land. Land acquisition in Mumbai is harder than in other cities as no one wants to part with it.” He added, “We were expecting to start the 5th line by the end of this year, but now it might take another year.”
The 5th line that between Mumbai Central and Borivali has been partially completed with a missing piece between Mahim and Santra Cruz and is an extension of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus-Andheri line, which co-incidentally saw the derailment.
On the other hand, the 6th line that is also between Mumbai Central and Borivali is nowhere close to completion and long-distance trains will run on it exclusively.
Dubbed the Suburban Train Avoidance (STA) line, the 6th line, like its name suggests, is a track proposed and sanctioned not to disturb local train movement, thereby giving the WR enough room to run more local train services on its mainline
Officials are of the opinion that when these lines are made available, there will be an almost 40 per cent increase in services. The WR runs 1,295 services in a day from Churchgate to Dahanu. “Right now we see almost 60 trains enter and exit the city everyday. Out of which almost 40 run during morning and evening peak hours of the local services,” an official said. He added, “So imagine the relief commuters would get with, say, 40 more services.”