Central Railway has started work on connecting the main line to harbour line at Panvel and has sought permission of the Railway Board to run Electrical Multiple Units (EMU) to enable the train to cross Loanavala Ghat. Between Kurla and Shivaji Nagar, they will halt at Chembur, Vashi, Belapur, Panvel, Karjat and Lonavala, Dehu Road and Chinchwad.
In a telephonic interview with Newsline, the Central Railway General Manager said, “A technical feasibility test is currently on for the project. The service, as it is being planned, will connect the Pune and Mumbai but is not an inter-city service. Through this service we are targeting people travelling between intermediate stations between Pune and Mumbai.”
Jain said in the beginning the service will be started with a single rake on a trial basis. With a single rake, two to three services can be started between Kurla and Shivajinagar a day. For expanding it to a regular service, we will have to double the tracks, acquire additional rakes and have maintainable services fixed. For this we will need the assistance of the Railway Board and Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC)
Jain said that to enable the train to cross the ghats additional motor cars will be attached to the local rake. Local trains operating currently have 12 bogey rakes (train sets) with four motor cars.
“We are planning to add two more motor cars to enable the train to cross the ghats after Lonavala,” said Jain. The main hurdle in the plan is a railway rule that trains going beyond 160 km should have lavatories. The distance between Kurla and Shivaji Nagar is 180 km. Jain, however, said the CR had petitioned the railway board and was in the process of getting an exemption for the rule.