Pune-Nashik Semi-High Speed Corridor awaits approval from Railway Ministry & State Govt.

The much-awaited Pune-Nashik semi-high speed corridor is finally coming to shape after the Central Railways approved the project a week ago, officials of the Maharashtra Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (MRIDCL) said.

The project has been pending for over 20 yeast now as it is likely to reduce travel time between the two cities by up to five hours. Officials are currently awaiting approval from ministry for railways and state government of Maharashtra for the project.

Rajesh Kumar Jaiswal, managing director, Maharashtra Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (MRIDCL), while speaking at the Pune International Business Summit on Monday, 4th March 2020  said, “The project will be completed in 1,200 days since the time it is sanctioned which also includes the 240 days which we will be required to acquire land.”

“The project is pivotal not only for passenger connectivity but also for commercial activities as this belt is the richest industrial belt in the country,” said Kumar.

Jaiswal at the summit presented the project to investors and informed that over 60 per cent of the funds for the project will come from debt and equity. “The MRIDCL is already talking to banks and private companies which would benefit hugely from this project,” he said.

“Currently, there are no direct connecting trains from Pune to Nashik which increases the travel time to about five to seven hours which would come down to only 1:40 hours once the project comes in place,” said Jaiswal.

The project will also have five dedicated private freight terminals (PFT) which will connect the industries directly to the terminal for commercial activities. The five terminals will be at Chakan, Manchar, Narayangaon, Alephata and Sangamner.

Jaiswal said, “As the nearby farmers and landowners would benefit hugely from this project we have proposed to the government to levy a 10 per cent cess on stamp duty on the land within the buffer zone of 50 kilometres on both sides. This would be the first of its kind, which is required to make the project self-sufficient.”

The estimated passengers on this route are about 87,000 out of which 27,000 are likely to use the train route of which initially about 21,000 would use the Pune-Nashik Semi-High Speed Corridor. The fare would be kept at par with the private bus operators which is currently about Rs 950. The train can be operated at a maximum speed of 140 kmph. The train would start at Pune junction and go up till Nashik Junction. The station at Pune junction would be elevated, he informed.

Jaiswal also emphasised on having no consultants for the project and that no work will be out-sourced.

Although the project did get a symbolic approval from the railway ministry back in 2014, the ministry is yet to agree to the funding structure.

Jaiswal also said that while it is believed that land acquisition is a time-consuming process, the MRIDC is sure of completing this process within eight months. the project would require about 1,450 hectares of land, most of which are with private landowners. Once the project gets approved as the railway ministry project, it would not require sanctions from the environment department, said Jaiswal.

“We are expecting about 12 per cent of the revenue to come from the non-fare box revenue by developing the nearby station area and warehouses which would further help the project to become self-sufficient,” said Jaiswal.