With no headway in the proposed Nashik-Pune semi high-speed rail project, the Maharashtra government is exploring its implementation under the metro policy.
Earlier in February 2023, the Ministry of Railways had accorded “in-principle approval” for the semi high-speed rail project that was in the pipeline since 2020.
A joint team of the state government and the Railways Ministry was to prepare a technical appraisal of the project and then submit it for the approval by the union cabinet.
However, the Indian Railways is yet to submit the report and get clearance from the cabinet committee of economic affairs.
Quoting an officer of the Maharashtra Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (MRIDC or MAHARAIL), an Indian Express report said, "Instructions have been given to state government officials to check whether the project can be implemented through the metro policy so that it can get a push."
The new Metro Rail Policy-2017 provides three models for states seeking to develop metro projects with the help of the centre.
Public-private-partnership with central assistance under the viability gap funding scheme of the Ministry of Finance.
Grant by centre under which 10 per cent of the project cost will be given as lump sum central assistance.
50-50 equity-sharing model taken between the centre and state.
States can take up metro projects exercising any of the three options for availing central assistance. Under all these options, private participation, however, is mandatory.
Mumbai, Pune and Nashik are together referred as golden triangle of Maharashtra, where pace of socioeconomic development is very fast. At present, there is no direct link between these important cities of Maharashtra.
As such, the Pune-Nashik rail project was announced in March 2021, primarily to connect the two bustling centres, thereby boost tourism, pilgrimage as well as trade.
At a speed of 200 kmph, the distance between Pune and Nashik is expected to be covered in around two hours.
As per the proposal prepared by MAHARAIL, the 235.15-km rail line will pass through three main districts of Maharashtra — Pune, Ahmednagar and Nashik.
The train will stop at 24 stations — eight major and 16 small ones.
Among the stations are Pune, Hadapsar, Manjari, Wagholi, Alandi, Chakan, Rajgurunagar, Manchar, Narayangaon, Alephata, Bota, Sakur, Ambore, Sangamner, Nimon, Nandur Shingote, Sinnar, Muhdari, Wadgaon, and Nashik.
The mega project has received the attention of the top leadership in the state government, with efforts being made to execute it as a priority.
“The Pune-Nashik high-speed rail project is on the priority list of the state government. We are working to give it a push and would take up with the union government for faster implementation,” Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, had said recently.
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