"I am fond of heritage," this is what Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told Free Press Journal on Thursday evening when he visited Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus station for the first time. He visited the grand old world heritage building of CSMT. There seemed to be a palpable excitement inside him as he touching and feeling the rare-stone crafted pillars, the sharply carved doors, and other members of this 134 year old edifice that is set to be redeveloped in the near future.
His visit and inspection that extended for over an hour, just paved impetus for the revamp of CSMT station. Sources in CR said that all plans are in place for the CSMT redevelopment wherein the entire long distance entry and exit point will shift on P D'Mello Road. The suburban train stations will also see a shift.
Vaishnaw inspected the CSMT building portico, grand staircase, central dome where he prostrated before the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Statue and the Star Chamber where he was explained about the conservation and renovation of CSMT heritage building. "We will try to retain the heritage as much as possible. We will also focus on providing passenger amenities after redevelopment of CSMT station," added Vaishnaw.
Sources in the Central Railway said that they have submitted the plans to the Railway Board which they expect to get a go-ahead soon. In March this year, the Railway authorities received approval from Mumbai Heritage Conservative Committee for their permission to enable them to go ahead with redevelopment of CSMT at a cost of Rs 1350 crore.
This proposal has been sent by the Indian Railways to Public Private Partnership Approval Committee that is part of Niti Aayog. The Indian Railways has proposed to lease CSMT for 27 years. The World Heritage CSMT railway station in the grand scheme of things as it shall be made into a point of conjunction for various modes of public transit.
It will hold residential and commercial offices with a built-up area of 2.54 lakh sq mts. The suburban rail line at CSMT is likely to be joined by subways and FOBs to connect it with Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro 3 and Wadala-CSMT Metro-11 as well.
Meanwhile Vaishnaw interacted with the passengers at the booking window (star chamber), suburban concourse, suburban platform and with commuters in train. He also interacted with the housekeeping staff and porters about their working. He inspected ‘One Station One Product’ stall.
On his way back, he interacted with the motormen and guard at lobby at CSMT. Sources said that the motormen and guards requested the minister to reduce the distance between signals so as to reduce the cases of Signal Passing At Danger (SPAD). He enquired about the working of suburban trains, the lifeline of Mumbai, signals and other aspects related to the working of suburban trains in detail. The minister said that they are trying to improve the running of AC locals in the future.