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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bombay: Transport Infra in 2011 (Part 1/2)

An update is due on the post I wrote about the transport projects expected to be completed in Bombay in 2010. Here's the list I made last year and the status of each project at year-end:

  • 5 Flyovers/Elevated Roads
    • Hindmata Junction (inaugurated)
    • King's Circle (partly open; expected to be fully open by May 2011)
    • Lalbaug (scheduled for completion in May 2011)
    • Sahar Airport Elevated Road (quite delayed, will not be opened in 2011)
    • Suman Nagar (quite delayed, will not be completed in 2011)
  • 40-45 new 12-coach rakes (trains) for the suburban network (34 were delivered, 16 more expected in 2011)
  • Rail bridge between Mahim and Bandra, with an additional pair of tracks from Santa Cruz to Mahim (bridge completed, status of tracks unclear)
  • 1000 buses for BEST (all delivered)
  • Terminal 1C at the Santa Cruz domestic airport (inaugurated)
  • Monorail between Jacob Circle (Lower Parel) and Wadala (delayed, likely to be completed in 2011)
  • Second carriageway of the Bandra-Worli sea link (commissioned)
Bombay lost its status of hosting India's busiest airport to Delhi because of lack of space for expansion. The international airport terminal continues to be modernised and is expected to be ready by 2013. Most significantly, ending years of uncertainty, permission was granted for the construction of a new airport in New Bombay. But it will be atleast 2015 before it becomes operational (how the airport will be connected to the city is all too unclear).

The most crucial element of the city's transport system, the suburban train network saw some improvement. The number of services did not rise much on the Western line, but the conversion of many trains from 9-coach to 12-coach increased capacity by 7-8%. Services increased on the Central and Harbour lines too, though I am not aware of the exact numbers. The conversion from DC voltage to AC voltage (expected to improve speeds of the locals slightly) began, a process that will take 2-3 years to complete. The extension of local train services to the far northern town of Dahanu was not realised, and might not happen in 2011 either.

Roads remained in their sorry state, not helped by the plentiful rains this year. Work continues on the series of flyovers on the Eastern Express Highway and the remaining two flyovers should be opened to traffic by May, as noted above. The Eastern freeway (a 4-lane road along the eastern seaboard) is still another two years away, and work on the Worli-Haji Ali sea link has not yet begun. Among the east-west links, the Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road was finally completed. The Santa Cruz-Chembur link is yet to see light of day though. Three other flyovers in the western suburbs (Milan Subway, Barfiwala Lane, Jogeshwari station) are likely to be delayed beyond 2011.

Two long-planned transport projects stubbornly refuse to take off. The Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) is an orphan, with neither the MMRDA nor the BMC really interested in even starting a trial run. The latest announcement is that a pilot might be in place by Feb-end, but I remain sceptical. The water transport project, supposed to provide boats for passengers along the western and eastern coasts, remains a bone of contention between the MMRDA and the MSRDC. Both agencies keep vying to implement the project, but no one is actually doing any visible work to bring it to fruition. I wonder why the MSRDC (Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation) is even involved in a water transport project.

To follow in part 2: Metro, Monorail projects. List of projects expected to be completed in 2011. 



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