Project to build 2 new lines to connect Pune, Lonavala stalled

Pune-Lonavala railway line, pune lonavala railway line project, maharashtra news, pune city news

The Railway Board had directed MRVC to get the state government's approval and issue a GR about the cost-sharing arrangement. (Representational Image)

Envisaged over two decades ago and finalised last year, a project to construct two more railway lines between Pune and Lonavala has been stalled as it is yet to receive a go-ahead from the state Urban Development department.

Currently, the busy Pune-Lonavala route has a double line, which is over-saturated with several trains.

The project to lay a third and fourth railway line between Pune and the hill station will be implemented by the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC). The detailed project report (DPR) for the twin line, drawn up by MRVC, was submitted to the Railway Board exactly a year ago, in February 2019. The cost of the project, estimated to be Rs 4,882 crore, will be shared equally by the Indian Railways and Maharashtra government, on the lines of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP).

The Railway Board had directed MRVC to get the state government's approval and issue a GR about the cost-sharing arrangement. While the DPR was submitted to the state government on April 30 last year, the latter is yet to respond, and the project has been delayed by months. "We had submitted the DPR to the state government and are waiting for its approval. The nod has to come from the Urban Development department," said R S Khurana, chairman and managing director, MRVC.

The matter "is under process and may be approved soon," said a state government official.

The project was first envisaged over 20 years ago, in 1997-98, and a report on this was submitted to the Railway Board in 2001.

But it took years for the Railway Board to sanction the Reconnaissance Engineering cum Traffic (RECT) survey, which it finally did in 2011-12.

A detailed project report, with a feasibility study and detailed construction estimate for the proposed line, was sanctioned in March 2016. The then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had written to the Railway Ministry, requesting that both the third and fourth lines be sanctioned at the same time. The chief minister had also said that the state was ready to bear half the cost of laying the twin lines by extending the MUTP model followed for the Mumbai Suburban Railway System.

The timely commencement and completion of the project also depends on clearing the land between Shivajinagar and Chinchwad, which has seen heavy encroachment. The Kamshet station has to be dismantled and the new station has to be shifted 600 metres towards Pune to lay the two new lines, said a railway official.