Pune-Lonavala Rail Expansion Delayed Despite Rising Costs

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Pune/Lonavala, 21st June 2024: It has been four years since the submission of the first detailed project report (DPR) for the third and fourth railway lines between Pune and Lonavala, and more than nine months since the revised report was submitted. Despite these efforts, the ambitious project of the Maharashtra State Government remains under consideration.

Originally estimated at Rs 4,884 crore five years ago, the project’s cost has now escalated to Rs 5,100 crore, marking an increase of Rs 216 crore over this period. Despite the submission of two DPRs, the Maharashtra State Government has yet to prioritize this ambitious project, keeping it on the sideline.

Currently, the Pune-Lonavala railway line consists of two tracks. Indian Railways had expressed readiness to initiate the expansion of this line. Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had indicated the Maharashtra Government’s willingness to contribute to the project, with a commitment to bear 50% of the total cost. Consequently, the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) was tasked with implementing the project.

However, despite this commitment, the Maharashtra Government has neither approved nor allocated funds for the project. While the Maharashtra Government has not officially withdrawn from its participation, its neglect has significantly delayed the project, leading to substantial cost escalations. This delay has adversely affected passengers.

If legislators raise their voices and push for action in the upcoming legislative session, it would greatly benefit passengers in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad. The expansion would increase the number of mail and express trains and enhance local commuter services.

MRVC submitted a revised detailed project report (DPR) on 4th July 2023, as per the Maharashtra Government’s directives, estimating the project cost at Rs 5,100 crore. However, the project remains pending approval from the Maharashtra government. Approval from the Ministry of Railways is contingent upon Maharashtra’s endorsement, thus stalling progress on this crucial initiative.

Plans are underway to utilize existing routes between Pune and Lonavala for local train services. Once the third and fourth routes are completed, they will accommodate mail, express, and freight trains. The final decision on this matter rests with Indian Railways.

Currently, the frequency of trains between Pune and Lonavala is high. However, due to limited tracks, passengers face delays, the inability to introduce new trains, disruptions in local services, and restrictions on extending journey routes. Therefore, establishing a third and fourth route on this corridor is imperative. The volume of trains and the capacity of existing routes significantly impact the scheduling of Pune to Mumbai trains. Hence, the creation of additional routes between Pune and Lonavala is crucial.

Key Statistics:

– 79 trains operate between Pune and Mumbai.
– 42 local trains run between Pune and Lonavala.
– The daily passenger count exceeds 1,50,000.