The Railway Board has finally given its nod for the detachment of the Harbour line from the main railway yard of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) and its transformation into an elevated rail corridor. At the same time, the grand old terminus too is set to get a facelift.
The proposal to 'uplift' the harbour line was floated in 2018 and the railway board's approval was pending all this while.
Accordingly, the current Harbour line will be relocated from Platforms 1 and 2 to the P'D Mello entrance of the CSMT, near Platforms 18 and 19. The proposed railway corridor will be elevated to the second floor. The proposed Harbour rail platforms will be connected to the main railway station with a Foot Overbridge (FOB).
"According to the redevelopment plan, the Harbour line will be shifted from where it is currently located, to the P'D Mello entrance and be transformed into an elevated railway corridor," said Sanjeev Kumar Lohia, MD and CEO, Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation (ISRDC), in a webinar.
The proposed Harbour line platform will be approximately 500 metres away from the main CSMT yard. More than 1.5 lakh passengers use the Harbour line daily. When this new development is complete, passengers, will have to walk for at least 15 minutes to reach the main entrance of the CSMT from the proposed new platforms, a huge inconvenience for those using this line.
"The planning has been done to optimise usage of space and resources. The entire CSMT compound will be remodelled to a simpler suburban yard," Lohia stated.
However, passengers have expressed their disapproval of the proposed elevated Harbour corridor.
"More trains are the need of the hour on Harbour line. We don't have fast trains, nor is the frequency good. During the monsoon, trains often get cancelled. On top of all of this, shifting the station will only add to our woes," said Ramesh Solanki, a trader and daily commuter.
"If they want to remodel, let them do so by keeping the Harbour line platforms where they are right now. Relocating these will be an absolute waste of resources, as it won't help the commuters in any way," felt Smriti Ahuja, a marketing professional and a regular commuter. CSMT revampThe remodelling of CSMT will be part of Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP). The external portion of CSMT will be remodelled to restore its 1930s Victorian Gothic outlook, while the interiors of the building will be transformed into a commercial zone. The entire Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) office will be shifted to Byculla.
The whole 2.5 lakh square metres of space will be commercialised, with the station premises set to resemble an international transit hub. The premises will also have integrated checkposts and a passenger waiting hall.
The cost of the project has been estimated around Rs 1,642 crore and the transformation will take place over approximately four years. The project will be carried out on a 'Public-Private-Partnership' basis and will be handed over to private players, by calling for bids.