India, AIIB sign $500 mn agreement to improve Mumbai suburban railway system

New Delhi (NVI): The Central Government and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) today signed an agreement for $500 million to improve the network capacity, service quality and safety of the suburban railway system in Mumbai.

The agreement was signed between the Centre, Maharashtra Government, Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation and AIIB.

The Project is expected to increase network capacity in the region with the reduction in journey time and fatal accidents of commuters. It is estimated that among primary beneficiaries of the project, 22% are female passengers who will benefit from improved safety and quality of service, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement.

With a population of 22.8 million (2011), Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) is the most populous metropolitan region in India and is expected to reach 29.3 million by 2031 and 32.1 million by 2041.

This population growth represents the core driver behind Mumbai’s urban expansion, compelling the state of Maharashtra to prioritize sound urban and infrastructure planning which balances economic activities, mobility as well as the optimization of environmental and social outcomes.

Around 86 per cent of Mumbai commuters rely on public transport. However, supply has not kept pace with rising travel demand. The Mumbai suburban railway network, which carries three quarters of all motorized travel (78 per cent of passenger km or eight million passengers per day) increasing at three per cent annually, suffers from some of the most severe overcrowding in the world.

User experience is further compromised by low amenity of carriages, substandard stations and station access, and serious safety concerns. Between 2002-2012, there were more than 36,152 fatalities (on average, 9.9 fatalities per day) and 36,688 injuries on the Mumbai suburban railway network.

A key reason for accidents and deaths is trespassing at or between stations as well as overcrowding of both stations and train cars.

The loan agreement was signed by Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India, Sanjay Kumar, Chief Secretary on behalf of the Government of Maharashtra, RS Khurana, Chief Managing Director on behalf of the Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation and Rajat Misra, Director General (Acting), Investment Operations on behalf of the AIIB.