Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and state chief minister Devendra Fadnavis inaugurated the Nerul-Kharkopar corridor at a function near Kharkopar station. “In earlier days of civilisation, people would settle near rivers where they could easily get water. But now people start habitation at places equipped with means of transportation,” said Fadnavis.
Several other projects such as electrification of the Panvel-Pen section, a new platform at Parel station, six foot overbridges at different stations were also inaugurated through video calls from the same venue.
With the inauguration of the Nerul-Belapur-Kharkopar corridor on Sunday, the 465-km Mumbai suburban railway network entered a new region in Raigad district.
The 12-km Central Railway (CR) corridor will link Nerul and Belapur in Navi Mumbai with Kharkopar in Ulwe, a rapidly developing node in the satellite city and located near the proposed Navi Mumbai international airport.
This line is the first phase of the 27-km Belapur-Uran (a coastal town in Raigad district) corridor, which minister of railways Piyush Goyal said would be ready in a year.
Regular services on the 12-km line will start from Monday and link Ulwe with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) and Panvel on the harbour route, besides Thane on the trans-harbour corridor.
This is the first suburban corridor in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region in 13 years and comes after the trans-harbour line, connecting Thane with Navi Mumbai, was thrown open in 2005.
The CR will operate 40 services daily, of which 20 will run between Kharkopar and Nerul and the rest between Belapur and Kharkopar stations. There are six stations on the new section — Nerul, Seawoods-Darave, Belapur, Targhar, Bamandongri and Kharkopar. A total of four bridges, five road overbridges, 15 road underbridges and one track underbridge will be developed.
Work is currently going on for the second phase. The entire Nerul-Uran project, which was initiated in 1996-97, is expected to serve as a crucial link for the expansion of Mumbai’s suburban rail network. The project is a joint venture of the Railways and the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco). The total estimated project cost is₹1,781 crore. While the Railways are bearing 33% of the total cost, Cidco is taking care of the remaining 67%.
The commissioning of the newest corridor was to take place in December 2017, but it got delayed by nearly a year. “Once fully functional, the entire corridor will benefit the Navi Mumbai airport, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust’s container port at Nhava Sheva and fishing communities in the region, and also connect Panvel, Pen, Roha and CSMT,” said a Cidco official.