Walking, the most fundamental way to travel, is a joy to many, while a lot of people crib and whine about it.
Walking brings joy to a lot of people. It’s the surest way to remain reasonably healthy, and also gets the job done: You reach your destination, albeit a little slower.
Walking is a lot like cycling, except it doesn’t require specialised equipment, namely a cycle, and is more compatible with rugged terrain than a cycle. In short, walking up and down a staircase or a craggy hill is easier than attempting the same with a cycle. However, both face the same issues with motorists treating them with contempt.
In an earlier post on Andhra Pradesh’s upcoming capital city of Amaravati, I had given a few suggestions on making cities cycle and pedestrian friendly. Now, let us leave that to the Planners and Experts. Our focus here is on walking.
Why would you walk?
Simple. To get somewhere. I walk to the provision store, I walk to the bus stop, I walk everywhere. In some places, like several IT campuses across the country, driving is restricted to certain designated zones, and thus, you would be required to walk or cycle in the other areas. If you cannot cycle, your only option is to walk.
Walking is crucial, not only for those using public transport, but also for cyclists and motorists. You need to walk to the parking lot. You need to walk where the cycle cannot be used. Walking in crowded areas is a pain, and this is where I realise that Mumbai is probably the best city [pun intended, of course] for walks. Why? The Mumbai Skywalk Project.
Starting with the 1.3km long skywalk connecting Bandra Railway Station [East] to Kalanagar junction in 2009, the city of Mumbai has numerous skywalks connecting various railway stations to localities in the vicinity, bypassing the crowd, bus stops, vendors, and all below. The skywalk in Andheri East connects Andheri Railway Station, Andheri Metro Station, Agarkar Chowk Bus Station, as well as the bus stop atop the Gopal Krishna Gokhale Bridge, while the Bandra skywalk connects Bandra Station, Bandra Bus Station, Bandra Court, the Western Express Highway as well as Swami Vivekananda Road.
The Nana Chowk Skywalk, connecting Nana Chowk to Grant Road is a spectacular structure. Built at a cost of ₹43crore, the structure is a oval-shaped, cable-stayed one. It is illuminated with Pink LED lights at night, thus making it an interesting sight to see. Now, while many people might consider it a waste of money, I’d like to see things a little differently. We normally hear of crores of money being spent on building roads for vehicles, but seldom do we hear about money being spent on making the lives of pedestrians easier. Right?
Governments need to realise the importance of pedestrian infrastructure. A four laned road just won’t do. A four lane road with provisions for pedestrians and cyclists at the periphery is the need of the hour.
Walking, is at the end of the day, the best way to exercise. Of course, I have been told that kissing burns more calories, but who cares? I can walk alone. That’s all that matters to me.
Ferries. No, not Fairies. And most certainly, not them Purple Faeries.
Water transport is something that defines most coastal cities. New York has one of the most comprehensive Water Transport networks. In India, Kerala, with its backwaters, has a huge Boat-based transport network. Kochi even has an integrated, Road-Rail-Water Transit Hub in the form of the Vytilla Mobility Hub.
Now, when I talk of water transport in this article, I’m talking of Boats and Catamarans. Higher-end vehicles like Hovercrafts will be dealt with separately. I am mainly talking of passenger traffic, since I’m looking at it from an Urban perspective.
Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari has repeatedly called for greater emphasis on water-based transport. This resulted in the passing of the National Waterways Act, 2016. The fundamental reason behind this being the fact that it is cheaper. However, there are multitude of other reasons that work out in favour of water-based transport over road or rail.
Ferries, can run faster than trains, which run faster than buses. Ferries can carry a greater load of people than buses and and in the long run are more reliable. Will the Electronic Boat recently launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it’s high time, India took up water based transport seriously.
Now, the focus of this post is going to be on four specific cities; Mumbai, Chennai, Pune and Ahmedabad, mainly because of my experience in them. They can emulated to other cities too, such as Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
The Kerala State Water Transport Department owns and operates boats and ferries as well as the infrastructure. The Maharashtra Government started planning for this in the right way by getting the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation and Maharashtra Maritime Board to set up the necessary infrastructure, while private agencies would operate the services.
Mumbai, as stated earlier, has several rivers flowing through the city, as well as in the vicinity. The Mithi, Oshiwara, Poisar and Dahisar lie entirely on the island, while the Ulhas River flows around the island.
Barring the stretch which passes under the runway of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, the Mithi, once dredged, cleaned of toxic sludge, as well as encroachments, can provide connectivity from Terminal 2 of the airport, Marol, and Seepz Village. Similarly, the Oshiwara can provide connectivity from Oshiwara Depot to Oshiwara Station, the Poisar from Poisar Depot to Malwani, and the Dahisar river can connect Ram Mandir in Borivali to the Dahisar Bridge Bus Station. The major hurdles on this stretch would be clearing encroachments, widening the river, dredging it, and ensuring that pollutants don’t enter it. Another major hurdle would be to demolish low lying bridges and have them replaced by higher ones.
The Ulhas river, which meanders through the Pune, Raigad and Thane district, empties into the Thane Creek. The towns of Kalyan-Dombivali, Karjat, Neral, Badlapur, and Ulhasnagar lie on the banks of the Ulhas. In rural pockets, the Ulhas provides water for agriculture. The rest of it, is filthy, much like the Mithi. Back in 2014, a Shiv Sena MP has asked the MMRDA to conduct a feasibility study for Water-based transport from Kalyan to Mumbai and Virar using the Ulhas river. If planned properly, this can link the far flung town of Karjat to the Versova Bridge via the above mentioned cities and Reti Bunder, thus making travel in the MMR easier. This has been notified as National Waterway 53.
Periodic maintenance of these water bodies will also help prevent another 26th July in future.
Today, the only existing mode of transport is in the form of boats and catamarans connecting Ferry Wharf and Gateway of India to Elephanta Island, Rewas, and Mandwa on one side, and Madh Island, Marve, Manori. The former is operated by private bodies while the latter is operated by BEST.
The city of Chennai, has two major rivers and one canal linking these two. The Cooum river runs on the north of the city, the Adyar through the Central portion,and the Buckingham Canal connects to two while also providing connectivity to Kakinada in the North and Cuddalore in the South.
The Cooum, passing through the fringe areas of the Core city, such as Poonamallee, Maduravoyal, Koyambedu, Anna Nagar, Kilpauk, Egmore and Park is polluted for most of the year. The Adayar, passes through less denser areas such as Ekkaduthangal, Adayar, Mylapore, Guindy, etc and is less polluted. It also passes beneath the Runway of the Chennai International Airport. The Buckingham Canal, meanwhile is relatively cleaner in the Northern fringes of Chennai, and south of Thiruvanmiyur. The section between the two, mostly passing through Central Chennai is pretty much unnavigable because of two reasons: Chennai Central station sort of sits on top of the Canal; The pillars of the MRTS line almost eat away the canals width.
The remaining section of both rivers and the Canal can be utilised for transport in and around the city of Chennai.
The Cooum, by virtue of running parallel to both Poonamallee High Road for most of its part and partly with the Egmore-Beach Railway track, can decongest both the road and the track, as well as the upcoming Metro. The Adayar can connect the Airport, Nandambakkam, Ikkaduthangal, Little Mount, Kotturpuram, Adayar, and terminate at the Theosophical Society.
The Buckingham Canal, on the other hand, can connect Ennore, Wimco Nagar with Basin Bridge on the North, and Thiruvanmiyur to Lattice Bridge, Kannaki Nagar and Sholinganallur in the South. Part of this is part of National Waterway 4.
The city of Pune has three major rivers flowing through it, The Mula, The Mutha and the Pavana. The Pavana flows through Northen Wakad, and Chinchwad before merging into the Mula at Kasarwadi. The Mula flows north of Balewadi, separating Pune from Pimpri-Chinchwad at Aundh and Khadki. The Mutha flows from Warje towards Deccan and Shaniwarwada, separating Old and New Pune. The Mula and Mutha meet each other at Sangamwadi from where they flow as the Mula-Mutha.
All three rivers feature a few low lying bridges, most predominantly on the Mutha, which would need be demolished.
The Mula can provide connectivity from Hinjewadi, Wakad, Balewadi, Aundh, Khadki, to Sangamwadi. The Pavana can connect Punawale, Ravet, Chinchwad, Sangvi and Kasarwadi. The Mutha can connect Warje, Kothrud, Karvenagar, Erandwane, and Shaniwarwada. From Sangamwadi, they can provide connectivity to Koregaon Park, Kalyani Nagar, Mundwa, etc.
Possibly the best city in India in the matters of Riverine management, Ahmedabad stands out in an interesting way. It is possibly the only city in India without low level bridges, and doesn’t need dredging.
The Sabarmati River, which originates in the Aravalis of Rajasthan, runs dry for most of the year. The Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project, under the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, involved construction of a concrete wall and concrete basin for the river within the city limits, to control its course, as well as facilitate easy maintenance. Part of the river width was reduced to provide for a Promenade and a Riverside Project. There are barrages at regular intervals on the river to regulate the flow of water. The river receives its water via a canal which brings water from the Narmada river at the Sardar Sarovar Dam. This Narmanda Canal flows under the Sabarmati River at their meeting point.
The Riverfront extends to The Torrent Power Park in the North and near Khodiyarnagar in the South. Plans are afoot to further extend it up North to Gandhinagar via GIFT City. There are two Boating Stations on the banks, used for joyrides on the river. This can be converted into a serious transport station, which in future can be extended up to Gandhinagar.
This article was mainly to highlight inner-city, river-based transport options. The benefits of running transport ops are it would help keep the river clean, and keep water flowing, thus, reducing chances of deluges.
Victoria Carriages, while not exactly a form of transport, are seen on the roads of Bombay, especially in and around Colaba, where they are used as tourist vehicles.
Usually Silver or Golden in colour, they are mostly seen in and around the Gateway of India, ferrying foreigners around the area. Some of them are lit up, with psychedelic or neon lights, that are turned on in the late evening. They are horse drawn, mostly by white-coloured or brown-coloured horses.
Victorias, sometimes incorrectly referred to as Tangas or Tongas, have existed in Mumbai since the times of the British. They have been an integral part of the city’s culture, much like the Double Decker buses that BEST operates, and today exist, solely as a reminder that they once were a premium product.
In 2015, the situation changed completely. A division bench of the Bombay High Court, after hearing a petition by a city-based NGO “Animals and Birds Charitable Trust” along with the globally vocal “People For the Ethnic Treatment of Animals [PETA]”, deemed the use of these Horse-Driven Victorias for joyrides as completely illegal. It gave the State Government a year to phase them out of the city and also directed them to find suitable rehabilitation for these horses. The ruling also mandated the closure of stables within the city where these horses were housed. Maintaining that using horse-driven carriages for joyrides solely for human enjoyment was avoidable and punishable under Section 3 and 11 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the bench directed the Government of Maharashtra to come up with a solution by December 2015 and submit a compliance report by January 2016.
The reaction to the ban has been mixed.
Half of the reactions are averse. People claim that the ban will affect livelihoods as well as horses. Interestingly, these include a lot of the people who were vocally against the decision of the government to ban Cow-Slaughter, but at the same time protested the killing of Dogs at the Yulin Festival.
The other half of the crowd is happy that the horses can now lead a dignified life rather than be forced to pull around carts around the city. The perception is that if Cycle-Rickshaws can be banned for being a Nuisance, so can Horse-pulled carriages.
Now, what can be done?
Granted, one more part of the city’s rich heritage is also going, but perhaps there can be a workaround.
The tacky model.
If you’ve ever been to Bangalore, you’d see in parts of the city that there exist Victoria-like carriages built on top of a car, complete with an array of Horses fixed to the front. They are commonly seen at weddings and other social functions. A bit tacky if you ask me, especially for the poshness of South Bombay.
The jugaad model.
Horseless tangas and carts do exist in Gujarat. A visit to the Somnath temple would show how the innovative locals replaced the horse with a motorcycle. Not as tacky as a horse, but hey, it’s closer to the solution, and with some sprucing up, might be able to keep up with South Bombay.
All said and done, I am for the ban, solely on the grounds that horses should not be used for pulling around heavy carriages and fat humans on them. Yes, I call them fat, because well, the average human is fat. But, as visible from the above two points, I’m all for innovation of something new to keep the Victorias running, albeit without the horse. Maybe the Japanese can help us with a Robotic Horse, seeing that they are experts at building Robotic Animals and are helping us build our Bullet Train.
The future of these Victorias, while indeed bleak for the immediate part, can be a bright one, provided the manufacturers and operators are willing to come together and invest some time, and thought and come up with an innovative solution, and not sit down as if it is a lost cause. There is hope. When BEST has not phased out its Double Deckers because of the Heritage value that they posses, then Victorias too, can stay.
Bandra Kurla Complex, known to most people as BKC, the new financial hub of Mumbai,and also the site of the Make in India Centre recently, has got a bonus Gold Coin in terms of transport.
Tata Starbus has bagged an order for its new Diesel-Electric Hybrid AC bus from the MMRDA. These buses will be operated by BEST as part of their fleet, thus complementing their existing AC fleet.
As per a notification on MMRDA’s website, these buses will be owned by MMRDA, maintained by Tata Motors for a period of five years and operated by BEST. Further, they will operate in dedicated bus lanes within BKC, connecting the District to Bandra Railway Station, Kurla Railway Station and Sion Railway Station.
These buses are set to be a game changer. The reasons being:
Tata has always delivered on the design front, right from their first Starbus Model that was introduced in 2004, which is now used on the Fort Pheri route. Unlike Volvo’s new Hybrid bus, which looks like a regular Volvo, this looks different, and good design is the first step to getting more crowd.
Now coming to Kurla and Sion Stations.
Sion station is set to get a massive makeover. The road bridge connecting Dharavi /LBS Marg to Rani Laxmi Chowk that houses the entrance to the station is set to be demolished to make way for the Fifth and Sixth railway lines connecting Ghatkopar to CST. This means that the station entrance will be shifted, and is good news in the long run.
Kurla Station [West] is the proposed site for MMRDA for the Station Area Transit Improvement Scheme [SATIS], which will see an elevated platform for buses and autos, similar to the structure at Thane Station West.
The new buses will mostly be housed at BEST’s newest depot, the Kala Killa Depot [KK] which was earlier an empty plot adjacent to the Dharavi Depot where buses of the Kurla Depot were parked during its reconstruction. The depot became operational on 31st January 2016.
Another update on this stretch is from the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited [MMRCL].
Amidst all controversy and outrage from Environmentalists and the National Green Tribunal [NGT], the latter of which has failed to do its duty and rakes up controversy needlessly, the MMRCL has silently been doing a good job in acquiring land for the underground Metro which will connect Colaba, Cuffee Parade, BKC Mumbai International Airport and SEEPZ.
Motorcycle taxis in India have been in existence since the 1980s.
Founded in 1980, The Goa Motorcycle Taxi Riders Association (GMTRA) was set up to operate two-wheeler taxis in the state. The following year, the Government of Goa began issuing licences to riders, known as Pilots. They use Yellow-coloured motorcycles and have fixed rates.
In June 2015, a company called HeyTaxi started two-wheeler taxi services in Mumbai. Taxis could be booked using an app. A few months later, a Bangalore based startup called HeyBob began offering the same services. Here too, taxis were to be booked with an app.
Now, in a significant move that will boost the Motorcycle Taxi industry in India, Uber announced the launch of UberMoto, a move that was emulated by its local rival OlaCabs within hours as Ola Bikes. Both services are confined to Bengaluru as of now. Both have a minimum fare of ₹15, with Uber charging ₹3/km and Ola charging ₹2/km thereafter.
Given the massive userbase that Ola and Uber enjoy, this is going to be a big advantage to the entire industry. The advantage Ola and Uber will enjoy is that existing customers merely have to update the app. However, existing service providers have experience in dealing with the industry and traffic, and as existing entities, can also slash prices to compete with the two giants. HeyTaxi also allows people to send shipments across Mumbai using its fleet.
It remains to be seen how this will affect streets. Hopefully, it will help rationalise and streamline traffic, rather than mess things up more.
We look forward to women driving Motorcycle taxis in India.
Ministers and industrialists spoke about road connectivity, rail connectivity, and inland water transport. While the former two were with regard to connecting ports, the latter was to decongest ports and roads. Now, if one can equate Passenger and Cargo traffic, you could come to the conclusion that a set-up for Freight should ideally work for a Set-up for Passengers as well, with minor modifications. This needs to be explored big time. The ship-building industry has a vast potential in India, and this needs to be explored big time by major cities, especially Mumbai, Surat, Chennai, Kolkata, and Mangalore. Connecting Ports to Hinterland with Rail, Road, and Inland Waterways will be a big boon for people living in the vicinity. It will encourage healthy competition [not the BEST vs NMMT kind, which is toxic] among different modes, and boost trade and productivity.
Amitabh Kant stressed on the need to manufacture more in India. While Services may form bulk of our economy, manufacturing is a must for it to be sustainable. This works in case of transport too. Buses need to be manufactured, trains need to be manufactured. With FDI is the rail sector, especially, high-speed rail, things are certainly set to change. He also mentioned that “Good quality Frugal Eningeering and Smartness must be combined to develop an Indian ability to manufacture”, which is true. One cannot directly apply global standards to India. India has different constraints, as well as requirements, and this must be taken care of.
Overall, I was part of several brilliant sessions, with various ministers, as well as Industrialists being part of there. I also, saw a lot of the exhibitions in vicinity.
Now, for other things:
The fire that broke out at the Stage during the Maharashtra Night cultural programme at Girgaum Chowpatti was a rather unfortunate one. It was a stray firework and of course, the event company must be penalised. It was an unfortunate event and the ever-awesome Mumbai Fire Brigade rushed to the spot in no time and had the fire under control with no casualties. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis himself stayed back till the end of the rescue operation to ensure that all had been led to safety. What peeves me off is that while not only did political parties try and gain political mileage out of this, but certain people went to the extent of calling it “Fake In India”, mocking the entire event, and making fun of a calamity, by way of which, they insulted the work done by the Firemen, as well as the Organisers of the entire event [not just the Cultural Programme].
The Auto Strike
Auto-Walas chose the wrong week to strike. Auto drivers across the city decided to strike on Monday 15th February in a protest against cab aggregators and illegal buses in the city as well as raised fares for issuing auto permits. However, BEST saved the day. BEST ran close to 90 extra services, ferrying 12 million people more on that day than the previous, and earning ₹5.2crore, which is ₹73lakh more than normal on that single day. However, BEST should have been running extra services to BKC, both Double-Deckers as well as special AC buses on that day, keeping the Make In India program in mind. Along with this, AC services should have been running on an hourly basis in and around BKC for the week. The strike didn’t impact NMMT or TMT much however, as it was within Mumbai city limits.
The Scania Citybus that NMPL recieved in 2014 was present. The bus runs on an Ethanol based blend and is both eco-friendly as well as fuel efficient. The bus went to Nagpur because the Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari hails from Nagpur. One hopes that with MSRTC inducting Scanias into its fleet, BEST too would get this.
The new Volvo Hybrid bus that has been launched on the 8400 platform was on display. NMMT has purchased 5 of these buses that run on Diesel-CNG and this is definitely going to take a toll on BEST.
Force Motors had on display, a minivan. This minivan seemed very comfortable, and reasonable luxurious. Personally, I believe it can be used as a Feeder service to the Metro.
Bajaj’s Quadricycle, the Qute was also present there. The Qute can actually be used as an alternative for auto-rickshaws, or maybe be the Kaali-Peeli vs Cool Cab type.
And, the bonus:
The mammoth 205-ton dumper that Bharat Earth Movers Limited [BEML] built for mining purposes was also there.
I’m a freelance Digital Media Marketing consultant. I was hired to cover the #MakeInIndia week on Social Media, and prior to this, I was part of CII’s Partnership Summit in Visakhapatnam in January 2016. Should you want to engage with me and my associates, please drop in a line at bestpedia[at]gmail[dot]com.
If you are sharing this post on Twitter, please do consider Retweeting the tweet below; it was RT’ed by Amitabh Kant himself.
The Bullet train is an often talked about thing these days, for good reasons too.
Officially known in Japan as the Shinkansen, meaning “New Trunk Line”, the Bullet Train got this name because of the shape of the train which initially resembled that of a bullet.
Of course, there are many detractors, all with pointless reasons to oppose the project. Some say it is financially nonviable, some say that it is redundant in the age of air travel, some say it will be expensive to travel on.
Let’s just go thru the Shinkansen that operates in Japan, and compare it with India.
Proposals for high speed rail had been going on since the 1930s. Prior to the Shinkansen, Japan’s rail system consisted of 1067mm Narrow Gauge railway lines which took roundabout routes due to difficult terrain. In 1957, the 3000 Series SE Romancecar, capable of attaining a record breaking high speed of 145km/hr for Narrow Gauge was introduced. Banking on the success of an NG train achieving such speeds, Japan decided to build a High Speed Rail system that would run on a 1435mm Standard Gauge track.
With Government sanctions secured in the end of 1958, Construction began at the end of the first quarter of the following year [April 1959]. The cost then was estimated to be ¥200billion, which came in the form of Government loans, Railway Bonds, and a low-interest World Bank loan of $80million. The 550km line from Tokyo to Osaka was thrown open in October 1964 for the General Public, just before the Tokyo Olympics. The existing Limited Express train covered the distance in 6hours and 40 mins. At 210 km/hr, the Shinkansen took four hours for the same, a journey which then took 3hours by 1965 thanks to increased speeds. Today, the line is capable of handling a high speed of 285km/hr, thereby reducing the journey time between the two cities to 2hours and 22minutes!
The fare from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka is ¥14,104 for adults on the Hikari and Kodoma services, and ¥14,450 on the faster Nozomi service. This translates to roughly ₹7715 and ₹7,911 respectively which works out to an average of 25 yen per kilometre, or 14 rupees per kilometre.
Now what does the Shinkansen have that makes it so fast?
All Shinkansen tracks, while at grade for most part, do not have any crossings with roads. They are completely grade separated, have tunnels and bridges thru obstacles and rough terrain, and are cut off from the regular tracks. This means, that slow trains, freight trains, all have no impact on the Shinkansen. This would make it a super win-win situation in Mumbai itself because of the severe congestion on the Western Railway network.
Shinkansen tracks are 1435mm wide in comparison to the Japanese Narrow Gauge of 1067mm. India traditionally uses 1676mm Broad Gauge on Indian Railways. Metre Gauge tracks of 1000mm width are slowly being phased out in favour of Broad Gauge, also known as Indian Gauge. Line 1 of the Kolkata Metro and the Red, Yellow and Blue Lines of the Delhi Metro are rapid transit systems in India that run on Broad Gauge, while all other Rapid Transit Systems use the 1435mm Standard Gauge. The Shinkansen network uses a combination of both ballasted as well as ballastless tracks, with the latter being used in sections such as viaducts and tunnels.
Automatic Signalling is used. All operations are automated at a Central Control Room, eliminating trackside signals that are used conventionally. As of now, advanced signalling is only used on Metro corridors in India.
The Shinkansen operates on a 25kiloVolt Alternating Current system of electrification. This is the same as Indian Railways and most Metro Railway projects, thus making it the simplest of Shinkansen features to implement in India.
All trains are Electrical Multiple Units [EMUs]. They are lightweight and air-sealed for greater speeds and stability. All axles are powered in the train, enabling higher acceleration and lesser time wastage during stoppages.
Now, coming back to India
Mumbai is situated at an altitude of 14m above mean sea level, while Ahmedabad is located at 54m. Between the two cities, there is no rough terrain, but a simple incline. Rivers on this route include the Ulhas River, the Narmada, the Tapi, the Mahi and the Sabarmati. Major cities on the route, not counting the fact that the Southern termini is the Financial Capital of India, include Surat, India’s Diamond Hub and Vadodara.
The distance between Mumbai Central and Ahmedabad Junction is 493km, and presently takes 6 hours 25 minutes at a cost of ₹1000 for an AC chair car and ₹1900 in an AC Executive Chair Car in the fastest train on the route – The Shatabdi Express. Between Mumbai Central and Borivali, it runs slower than a Fast Local, taking 29 minutes for the journey, while a local takes 27 minutes, mainly due to congestion on the network. There are around 70 trains on this route at present. The High-Speed Rail corridor will be 508km long and will feature a 21km undersea tunnel North of the Thane Creek towards Virar before coming back up and continuing elevated.
The impact of this line is something most detractors fail to see. Critics say that the line is being favoured because the Prime Minister and Railway Minister hail from these two states. What they forget is that Mumbai to Ahmedabad is among the highest density corridors of passenger transport in a day. Apart from this, this route is part of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. The Government must seriously consider the extension of this line from Mumbai to Pune as well, thus connecting the two most important cities of both Maharashtra and Gujarat.
In comparison, taking Private Metro Lines into consideration; we see that the two most expensive lines are Mumbai Metro 1, which charges ₹45 for 11km, Rapid Metro Gurgaon, which charges a ₹20 flat fare for 5km. It is obvious that the High Speed Rail will cost less than most skeptics assume.
A study by IIM-Bangalore has come to the conclusion that in order to break even and prepay loans, the train would have to carry 88,000 to 118,000 passengers per day, at an approximate travel cost of ₹5 per km per passenger. This, with a little extra calculations, results in a single one way journey coming up to ~₹2600.
This is an often asked question. People ask, why not improve the existing rail network?
Simple, Japan is offering the loan for export of the Shinkansen ONLY. It will also transfer some Technology to us so that we can use it for future lines. This money cannot be used for any other purpose.
This does not meant that the Conventional Railway Network will take a backseat or be discontinued. It just means both will coexist. Like a Bus Transport company has Regular and AC services.
But then, why not Maglev?
Another often asked question here is: Why not Magnetic Levitation aka Maglev, which offers speeds of upto 431km/hr against the Shinkansen high speed of 320km/hr?
China uses a Maglev in in Shanghai. The line is a completely elevated one connecting the city and its airport. In a Maglev, the tracks are designed in such a manner that the train glides over it. Thus, the entire system is automated and both the tracks and the train itself are run by Computers. The Shanghai Transrapid was built by many companies. The tracks were built by local Chinese firms, while the train itself is German, having been built by ThyssenKrupp and Siemens.
Cost of investment is high, as high or higher than the Shinkansen, but not at the same cost of the Shinkansen, keeping in mind the loan and the associated conditions.
The Bottom Line
The Bullet Train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad is crucial for the Nation. It would help in redrawing the lifestyle and work culture of India, as well as restructure Western India as a transport hub. The biggest beneficiary of this would be Diamond Merchants in Surat, and along with that, the Smart City projects of GIFT City, DREAM City, and the Dholera SEZ.
This is great news. During the day time, BEST depots are mostly idle with buses on the roads.
Three spaces, the Santacruz Depot, the NSCI Worli Terminus and the Bandra Reclamation Bus Station.
A very wise move. During the day, most buses of the Santacruz Depot are out on the roads, thus leaving it relatively empty and thus, BEST has done the right thing by monetising it. Similarly, Bandra Reclamation has four buses that enter the bus station: 1, 86, 212, 215, all of which terminate there. The area occupied by the Bus Station is vast though. Meanwhile at the NSCI terminal, only buses such as AS-2, AS-592, A74Express, A75Express, A7Express terminate or start here, that too at specific times in the morning and evening, thus keeping the area empty for most of the day.
Overnight parking is not an option as of now, as BEST uses both its Depots as well as Bus Stations to park buses at night. The maximum allowed time for parking is 12 hours. The rates, exclusive of service tax, are ₹200 for heavy vehicles, ₹150 for light vehicles, ₹75 for two-wheelers. This works out to an average of ₹17/hour, ₹13/hour and ₹7/hour respectively, which is quite cheap.
One hopes that BEST is soon able to monetise its largest assets, the land bank that it owns across the city in the form of 26 depots, and numerous bus stations. Earlier attempts at this included renting out unused land parcels at depots to developers. The two most prominent ones among them were the redevelopment of Seven Bungalows Bus Station where a shopping complex was built, similar to the Andheri Station (West) bus terminus, and the redevelopment of Kurla Depot after it was damaged in the 2005 floods to include a commercial complex.
Rates have not well known as of now, but will be updated, once they are up.
BEST has done a lot in the recent past to monetise its assets, from renting out buses to Diamond Traders in BKC, and Adlabs Imagica, to full body advertisements across all buses, to renting out spaces at depots. There is a Salon operating at Majas Depot.
This is a great move, and if BEST is motivated well enough, can help out in the long run in implementing the ‘Park-and-Ride’ concept in Mumbai city.
Mumbai. Bombay. Bambai. The City that Never Sleeps. Maximum City. Or, as I like to call it, BEST City.
The city of Mumbai, along with its satellite townships of Thane, Navi Mumbai, Mira-Bhayander, Vasai-Virar, and Kalyan-Dombivali forms the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, which is India’s second largest urban agglomeration and largest conurbation in a single state in the country. Other major Metropolitan regions in the country include the Tricity area of the Union Territory of Chandigarh, Mohali in Punjab and Panchkula in Haryana, and the National Capital Region consisting of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad, NOIDA, Ghaziabad, etc. Neither of these two is in a single state unlike the MMR.
However, what makes the MMR unique is the variety that is present across one single state. Maharashtra, being the state with the most decentralised administration, doesn’t control the MMR as much as the local Municipal bodies do. Each Municipal Body controls Transport in its jurisdiction, along with other factors such as water supply, electricity supply etc.
So what maketh Mumbai #MadeOfGreat ???
Roads. Rail. Buses. Beaches. Add to it, we have India’s first open-to-sea Cable-stayed bridge and also are the proud starting point of India’s first Expressway.
So, now, let us go into the nitty-gritties of what makes Mumbai the most amazing city.
Mumbai offers some amazing roads for you to take out your Tata, Toyota, Maruti, and Mercedes. You have the Western Express Highway, Eastern Express Highway, Sion Panvel Highway for your car to stretch its tyres. If you want the scenic route, you have Marine Drive, the Worli Seaface, Bandra Worli Sea Link, Eastern Freeway, Palm Beach Marg, and more. Of course, you do have the Toll Plazas, but if you have a FASTag, you can zip thru with ease. If this wasn’t enough, the city is the only one in India to feature a Road tunnel WITHIN the city! Mumbai also happens to be the city with maximum disciplined traffic. You’ll see people drive neatly in lanes, and give preference to pedestrians. The city also has long Skywalks, mostly connecting Railway stations to other areas, allowing Pedestrians to walk without having to put up with traffic.
Mumbai is probably India’s ONLY Linear city. The core city is divided into two parts, the Island City also known as Town, and the Suburbs, known as Greater Mumbai. Autos are prohibited in Town, which also houses some of Mumbai’s longest flyovers. Dr. Ambedkar Marg, the southern extension of the Eastern Express Highway features the 2.9km Lalbaugh flyover at Parel, which was built higher than most flyovers to allow the procession of the Lalbughcha Raja during Ganesh Chaturthi. The 2.4km long JJ Road flyover at Byculla was among the first in the country to use Noise barriers. The suburbs have the two main highways, along with SV Road, LBS Marg and numerous link roads such as the Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road, and the Santacruz Chembur Link Road, which features the city’s first Double Decker flyover.
Navi Mumbai, India’s most amazing planned city was built in the 1970s by the City and Industrial Development Corporation [CIDCO] to decongest Mumbai. It is a planned city, stretching from Airoli in the North to Panvel in the south. It was planned and designed by Charles Correa, and features some amazing railway stations. Vashi station has an IT Park above the tracks, CBD Belapur station has a helipad atop it, and Turbhe Railway station was designed by Hafeez Contractor.
Transport aside, Mumbai features a lot of amenities and interesting facilities for the humans residing there. It houses two cricket stadiums, Wankhede and Brabourne, a football stadium at Cooperage for all the future Messi’s, and a large Indoor stadium at the National Sports Club of India [NSCI]. It features numerous cultural establishments such as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalay, Bhau Da Ji Lad Museum, Jehangir Art Gallery and National Centre for Performing Arts.
Mumbai is home to India’s densest railway network. Comprising 465km of suburban lines, it is spread out across 6 lines. The city has India’s oldest railway network, and the maximum number of Terminus Railway stations. 2342 daily services from 4am to 1am carry approximately 7.5million passengers in a Day! Each train consists of Second Class, First Class, Women’s Second and First class coaches. Mumbai has a combination of trains, some with 9 coaches, some with 12 and some with 15! Air conditioned coaches will be inducted by 2016. Mumbai is the head of two railway zones, Western and Central and houses India’s most magnificent railway terminus, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which is a UNESCO World Heritage structure. It is also the only city that has two Rajdhani Expresses connecting it to Delhi.
Mumbai has India’s oldest Public Transport system, in the form of BEST, which has been operational since 1873. It is right to say that Mumbai had Public Transport when the rest of India did not know what Transport meant. The BEST provides buses that connect to all other parts of the city and most of the metropolis. BEST is today, the only Transco apart from the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation that operates Double Decker buses, and makes use of the Bell Pull on all its non AC fleet. BEST is also the only transco to feature a single-door Volvo B7RLE.
Mumbai also has India’s oldest airport at Juhu as well as the second largest airport in the country, that also has the current tallest Air Traffic Control tower. Again, the city had air transport when the rest of India wanted to know how planes fly. It was from here that JRD Tata first flew in 1932, four years after it opened.
India’s first expressway connecting Mumbai and Pune starts from Panvel, while the Eastern Freeway, and Sion Panvel Expressway offer great drives and greater escape routes in the city.