Row over Mumbai transport surcharge

By Nidhi Jamwal
Published: Saturday 30 September 2006

the Rs 5,745-crore Mumbai Urban Transport Project's second phase (mutp-ii) for a suburban railway is facing a roadblock because the Union ministry of railways and the Maharashtra government disagree on the amount of surcharge to be levied on commuters to fund the project.

Sources say a Mumbai metro project has caught the state government's fancy. Hence it is reluctant to fund mutp-ii. "But mutp-ii directs the project cost to be shared on 5050 basis between the railway ministry and the state government," says Prabhat Sahai, chief mechanical engineer, Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation Ltd, jointly set up by the railway ministry and the state government.The state government, however, claims that 100 per cent surcharge can be levied on commuters, whereas the railway ministry believes that a maximum of 55 per cent should be levied and the rest should be equally shared between the Centre and the state.

Levying 100 per cent surcharge on commuters would mean doubling the cost of both the daily train tickets and seasonal passes. Commuters are already paying a surcharge to repay a World Bank-loan of Rs 1,613 crore for mutp-i.

mutp-ii is expected to add 122 track kilometres and 131 new 9-car rakes. It also includes upgrading of the signalling and telecommunication system and lengthening of platforms. It is necessary to stem overcrowding. Today, 5,000 passengers travel per 9-car train during peak hours, as against the rated carrying capacity of 1,710. This is expected to come down to 2,700-passenger travel per 9-car train during peak hours after completion of mutp-ii.

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