Going off the rails

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By Suprotip Ghosh http://businesstoday.intoday.in

Mumbai’s Ghatkopar railway station turned into a fish tank on many a rainy day this monsoon season, stopping trains from plying. While torrential rains are common in Mumbai, the station’s troubles were man-made.

The demand to raise Mumbai metro fares has irked the Maharashtra government Photo: Nishikant Gamre/www.indiatodayimages.com
The demand to raise Mumbai metro fares has irked the Maharashtra government Photo: Nishikant Gamre/www.indiatodayimages.com

A cascade of water would overflow from the under-construction Ghatkopar Metro station and flood the tracks on the city’s busy central line rail network.

Not a sight that inspires confidence in the future of Mumbai’s transport infrastructure.

The confidence was shaken further in August when the company tasked with building, running and maintaining the metro sought a steep hike in fares even before it started operating the network. Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL), majority owned by Reliance Infrastructure, told the Maharashtra government last month that a fare hike was required because the construction cost has jumped 84 per cent from the original estimates due to delays.

Reliance Infrastructure, headed by industrialist Anil Ambani , owns a 69 per cent stake in MMOPL. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) controls 26 per cent while the remainder is held by French transport company Veolia.

People familiar with the development say MMOPL has asked for increasing the maximum fare to Rs 38. The company, however, says it has sought a maximum fare of Rs 33. Still, that is more than a three-fold hike from the current Rs 10.

The troubles with the Mumbai metro come barely months after Reliance Infrastructure exited New Delhi’s airport metro line, citing disputes with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.

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