Mumbai: Residents of Mumbai, India’s financial capital, can look forward to a better-connected and less-congested transport ecosystem, with three large projects due for completion this year.

Conceived by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the Eastern Freeway, the Mumbai Metro and the Mumbai Monorail are expected to ease traffic snarls and shift more passengers to rail-based mass transport.

Reinforcing transport infrastructure is critical for Mumbai where, on average, a resident spends four hours a day commuting, according to consulting firm Ernst & Young Global Ltd.

Greater Mumbai, which covers Colaba in the south to Mulund and Dahisar in the north and Mankhurd in the east, with a population of 16.4 million, houses twice as many people as New York City, says the website of E&Y. Suburban Mumbai has a density of 20,925 persons per sq km, twice that of New York’s 10,630 persons per sq km.

MMRDA is working on other critical infrastructure projects including the Navi Mumbai International Airport, the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) and a 35-km coastal road project. MTHL will connect the city of Mumbai with Navi Mumbai. The coastal road will connect Marine Drive in south Mumbai with Kandivali in the north.

“Public transport and connectivity are critical for Mumbai," said Arvind Mahajan, partner and national head, energy, infrastructure and government at KPMG. “We need to do a better job on execution to ensure projects can get executed on time and leverage private sector participation to make it happen."

The Eastern Freeway

The 980-crore Eastern Freeway project is being executed by MMRDA under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, a city modernization programme of the central government. The Eastern Freeway will provide a 22-km, high-speed corridor from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to the Eastern Express Highway (EEH) in Chembur. The freeway also provides direct connectivity to the new Chhatrapati Shivaji (rail) Terminus or CST and facilitates movement of cargo traffic in the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) area. MMRDA has completed 17 km of the project, which saves at least 30 minutes of commuting time from Chembur in the north to the downtown Fort area. The entire project is set to open by December.

Mumbai Metro

In May, Mumbai moved a step closer to getting a modern metro rail network with a trial run on a 2km stretch, ahead of the Versova-Ghatkopar line opening at the end of the year.

The 12-km line linking the eastern and the western suburbs of Mumbai will give residents a public transport alternative to traffic-heavy road connections and packed suburban commuter trains that offer little by way of passenger comfort and only run in a north-south direction, along the length of the island and its suburbs.

The corridor is being developed by Mumbai Metro One Pvt. Ltd, a consortium led by Reliance Infrastructure Ltd, which holds a 69% stake. The other stakeholders in the 23,500 crore project are the MMRDA (26%) and Veolia Transport, France (5%). The line will have 12 stations.

Mumbai Monorail

Phase I of the Monorail is expected to be launched by September. It’s designed to carry 7,500 commuters per hour in each direction and 150,000-200,000 people daily. Many parts of the city not connected by the suburban rail system or the Metro rail will be linked by Monorail. The Monorail system will be connected to the suburban rail system at Wadala, Curry Road in central Mumbai and Chembur in northern Mumbai. Engineering and construction company Larsen and Toubro Ltd is building the Monorail in association with Schomi Group Bhd of Malaysia.

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