Implications: Mumbai Metro Line-3’s Depot Relocated from Aarey to Kanjurmarg

Maharashtra’s Chief Minister on Sunday announced the state government’s decision to move the 33.5 km Mumbai Metro Line-3 (Aqua Line)’s planned train maintenance depot (carshed) due to environment concerns from its original location at Aarey Colony to Kanjurmarg where the 15.2 km Line-6 (Pink Line)’s depot is planned.

The state’s environment minister subsequently tweeted that Line-3 & Line-6 will share a common depot, have the same technical specifications, and headway times will be maintained as originally planned.

This decision was announced without specifying any underlying technical reasoning or empirical analysis, or ramifications to overall cost, time lost and execution challenges. How could it when no proper feasibility report has been prepared? In fact, the government’s appointed four-person committee in January 2020 had recommended to stick with the the Aarey Colony site. They explored alternate locations, but the panel found no viable alternate and instead recommended the government to lift the existing stay, placed in November 2019, on construction work.

I’ve read reports and tweets laden with conjectures from both sides – prior and following the decision – and believe most of what is being said by either side is exaggerated. To paraphrase a couple statements:

  • This will require an entirely new 6 km parallel line (SEEPZ to Kanjurmarg)“. Nope – a roughly 1 km new ramp with a turn-out at Line-6 will suffice.
  • This will lead to a cost escalation of Rs 4000 to 5000 crore“. Nope – in terms of purely civil construction, the new ramp will cost max Rs. 100 crore. More on that later.
  • This will save the Aarey Colony site“. Nope – in fact the new ramp will have to pass to through the original site. More on that later.

To start off, here are three questions. First, was there anything in the first place at the original site in particular to save? The site is located off of the busy Jogeshwari – Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR) and at the extreme southern-end of, not even within, Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

Location of Mumbai Metro Line-3 depot’s original location (in Yellow) – via MMRC

Second – 2141 trees on the site have already been cleared off in early October 2019 following the Bombay High Court’s decision to uphold the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s prior approval. So what’s now being saved there? Gravel, soil or trash?

Third – where were the current state government’s members and activists when residential developments and the Film City were constructed on sites deep within the National Park? And what about when massive new developments, such as this, that continue to grow and creep into the western and eastern flanks of what used to be part of the National Park?

Now, let’s take a look at satellite imagery of the northern end of the line where L&T-STEC JV has built the Sariput Nagar Ramp & TBM Launch Shaft under Package UGC-07. Tunneling works from this shaft to SEEPZ Station were completed in December 2018 for the 566m down-line tunnel and in August 2019 for the 571m up-line tunnel.

Just east of it is the Aarey Colony Depot site where the line’s only at-grade station was planned with a train-reversal facility. The depot & its station’s Rs 328 crore construction contract was awarded to Sam India Builtwell in 2017, and that included preparatory works, such as cutting trees and building storm water drains.

Aarey Colony – May 2020 Satellite Imagery

With the twin-tunnels and ramp already built and positioned in an eastern-facing direction towards the original depot site, how will Line-3’s new ramp connect up with Line-6’s elevated line? There’s an entire substation sandwiched between JVLR and the original depot site. Without dismantling it, the new roughly 1 km ramp connection will have to skirt around its north-side, thereby passing through the original depot’s site, and then link up with Line-6.

Here’s an indicative or rudimentary look at how the new connection’s projected path with a turnout at Line-6 will likely resemble requiring more trees to be cut. So again, how has Aarey been or going to be “saved”?

Looking at civil contract values for metro lines in Mumbai, I estimate the new ramp connection to cost no more than Rs 100 crore which is a significant amount, but definitely not Rs 4000 or 5000 crore as being claimed by those in favor of the original location. That said – Mumbai, and by extrapolation India, will be losing out on potential economic gains from increased productivity had the line not faced this issue. More lives will unnecessarily continue to be lost daily on the suburban rail lines.

With Aarey Colony Station no longer in the works, that also means the train-reversal facility is gone. Where will this be built? Without one at the extreme-end of the line, the system’s throughput will be affected and high headways of 2 minutes or less cannot be maintained. The basic civil structure of SEEPZ Station is ready and I don’t see its northern end or its twin tunnels being partially demolished to allow for one.

With Line-3’s 8-coach train-sets utilizing Line-6’s viaduct (being built for 6-coach train-sets) to access the main-line in the mornings and Kanjurmarg Depot in the nights, this could necessitate a redesign in the load bearing capacity of Line-6’s superstructure. If anything – cost will go up, and not the other way around. The shorter length of Line-6’s stations doesn’t really matter since Line-3’s rolling stock will not necessarily have to service Line-6. Two sets of rolling stock can be maintained for each.

One also needs to ask what kind of message does this send to foreign lenders? Without a feasibility report, project plan or a new environment impact assessment getting prepared, all of this really just throws more questions than answers.

A common depot for both (or more) lines is not necessarily bad, but the timing of this entire issue and episodes within it leaves no doubt that there were no genuine environment concerns to begin with. The incumbent Chief Minister started digging a hole when further construction work was halted in November 2019, and there was no way to backtrack and wiggle out of it without losing face.

But now that a decision has been made, this line’s opening for commercial service has easily been pushed back by a minimum of 4 years. Pre-construction activities of preparing the above reports (if needed), tendering for various investigations, utility shifting, detailed design consultants (DDC) and preparation of the design itself will take a minimum of 2 years. That will be followed up with another year of tendering for construction-work, with another year for actual construction.

I really don’t see how any of this is a “massive victory for the citizens of mumbai“, especially since compensatory plantation with strict oversight and other environment friendly activities all around the city could have easily been pursued for greater effect if the ecology and environment were genuine concerns to begin with.

For more updates, check out the Mumbai section of The Metro Rail Guy!


written by

Global traveler who prefers mass rapid transit

33 Responses to "Implications: Mumbai Metro Line-3’s Depot Relocated from Aarey to Kanjurmarg"

  1. Vivek Singh says:

    What if a Line 3 train develops a snag or some other issue and has to be taken out of service? This will cause a major operations issue on Line 6.

    What if another bunch of “activists” decide to sue the government for “wasting public money” and ignoring “recommendation of the expert committee”? This will cause more delays.

    • Clevin Gomes says:

      These activists are not deserve to call as a activists. Inhi ki wajase poora plan barbaad ho gya.This day should be known as a Black Day for Metro Enthusiasts and Infra Enthusiasts. Shame on u Activists😡😡🤬🤬🤬

      • Uttam hathi says:

        It the state acts reasonably there would be no need of activists, the logic put forth that trees has been felled thus where is the forest, what horizon is that, forests regenerate.
        On technical aspects, well what was the technical aspects when multifarious lines were approved on non compatible on rakes. What mumbal needs is handing over suburban trains to mumbai, as now indian railways are going to be privatised, what the need of having this integrated, cash cow, that can’t be a technical reason.

  2. Raj says:

    I know one contractor that is happy with this decision. Guess which one?

  3. Himanshu Doria says:

    Nice writeup man. I was very stressed about the financial implications of this move, but still 100 cr overhead is large and there is no clarity how they are going to implement this decision, when the both lines are incompatible with each other. Not to mention the enormous 4 year delay.

    • Avadhut Patil says:

      100 Cr. Is just for the ramp construction and how about other stuff such as Project Consultant, Feasibility study, additional cost to strengthen or redesign, the almost ready viaducts of Line 6? This is gonna cost a bomb.

  4. Siddhartha says:

    You have brought out very insightlful and balanced view. My planning question remains for the govt.

    How will they take out trains out of service from Line 3 during off peak between 11am-4pm period. During peak they may be operating 30 train sets and off peak may require fewer. The out of service trains will have to be returned to depot till another peak. This will disrupt the line 6 services now that you have pointed correctly that line 6 is designed for 6 car trains. Earlier I was hopeful of solution that trains could service Worli to Kanjurmarg and then go to depot during off peak. But that does not seem feasible unless few trains set are 6 car on line 3 and taken off during off peak.

    • Siddhartha says:

      my-many first paragraph

    • Himanshu Doria says:

      They have to definitely redesign the stations of line 6 to accommodate both 6 and 8 coach trains. Plus the presence of PSD system is going to overcomplicate things. And if the proposed depot is big enough to hold a large no. of trains for both lines ? This move has led to many questions to with no easy answers for the govt and seriously raises the point that was it really worth it ?

      The viaduct would still be going to pass through the so-called lush green forest with non-existent tribals living there.

  5. Vaibhav says:

    Additional Depot for line 3 itself was incorrect idea. Spending on separate Depot for each line was incurring high expense. Hopefully this has saved complete expenditure on additional car shed, except for that minimal spent till now.

    • Himanshu Doria says:

      Line 3 had only one planned depot at Aarey Milk Colony land so I don’t know where the talk of additional depot came from. And No, this move is not going to save any money, it going to add an extra overhead of atleast 100 cr according to this article plus a very minimum delay of 4 years.

      • Professional Transit planner says:

        Well, there isn’t much of a saving with a combined depot. It would increase operational cost while reducing operational time. You need to space to place trainset somewhere on the line during opening and closing times. You will either need to cut operational times or spend more money building sidings (a third track to keep rolling stock during off hours). Sidings on Line 3 because it’s underground is going to be extremely expensive. So you’re looking at a reduced operational hours. I’d say line 3 would run from 5:30 am to 12:30 am or less than that based on the headway they are targeting it. Either way, it’s really piss poor decision.

  6. Swapnil Mhaske says:

    100 cr extra? Sounds less but then do you people the cost of lives lost daily on the local trains for 4 yrs delay. Plus they say it costs 4 crores each day when the work is stopped. How much do you end up calculating. Miserable decision.

  7. Dhruv Zatakia says:

    Poorly written article. Another parallel line will be needed and L6 cannot be used because line 3 will have variable frequency and the coaches will go back and forth from depot and mainline during morning and afternoon. This will just cause trian delay on line 6 and complexity. Not a viable option at all.

    • Sham says:

      I agree with Dhruv Zatakia. Using a running line to double up as a service line to depot will keep disrupting operations on line-6.
      An option is to have three tracks on the same viaduct to keep the two line-6 tracks separated from line-3’s depot line.

      Further, I don’t think the viaduct needs to be strengthened for 8-coach rakes if axle loads are the same as for 6-coach trains. Speeds may need to be low though when moving 8-coach rakes to the depot & out.

      The long post by pseudo-environ”mentalist” Sandeep Anrudhan is just noise, makes no sense.
      Can double the number of trains be squeezed within the space of a depot for a single line? Can the same no. of people maintain two groups of trains from two lines? What savings is he referring to with one depot instead of two? Compound wall costs?

      Saving Aarey & environmental benefits after it has been cannibalized for decades with slums? Where was he then? He is asking others to visit but has this bloke ever visited Aarey?

      He seems to conveniently forget the delay, inconvenience & additional costs involved due to delays.

      So much for concerns about environment.

  8. Sachin Patwardhan says:

    Very informative and matter-of-factly elaborated. But unfortunately we r in fool’s paradise…

  9. Clevin Gomes says:

    TMRG, previously state Govt. have appointed DMRC to conduct study to shift Depot, So DMRC have a time of 3 months to complete it. So, the Question is, why state Govt. have made it’s decision to shift Depot to Kanjurmarg, when DMRC is still doing feasibility study? Looks like State Govt. Wanted to make happy to those Fake Environmentalists to convert the dairy land into Forest. Atleast Aarey was the viable option, even they want to shift, then they can shift to Pahadi Goregaon since it is not far away from the site, but Kanjurmarg is too far away. I bet that Kanjurmarg will be the suicide for Aqua Line (Line3) to Pink Line (Line6)

  10. Prakash says:

    All just political drama at public cost and life.
    Bunch of useless without any directions towards real development of our country 😡

  11. S.V.Phene says:

    Mr TMRG,

    Your analysis about the implications of the decision of shifting the Aqua Line car depot is perfect,I agree with your view this decision is political face saving than any rational environment or economic decision.

    You have estimated that besides the incremental construction costs there will be about four years of delay on completion of the Aqua line

    — I am wondering how right that estimate will be ,because so far as I recall the line 6 estimated opening was not 2024, therefore I guess in any case depot planning work for line 6 must have started and also the planning for tendering etc.
    A clearer understanding on line 6 progress on these aspects will help to estimate the delay and cost escalation which is inevitable.
    — The question is how much?

    Further as regards Aqua line Tunnelling is concerned,the section 3 – Mumbai Central to Worli is hopelessly behind schedule.In fact at one stage ,it was believed that MMRCL was exploring the possibility of increasing the Tunnelling speed in this section by introducing additional TBMs from Mumbai Central end.

    But unfortunately that decision has been dropped in favour of Soma Dogus JV ( the original contractor- who is completely responsible for the delay),In any case it is very well known in the Maharashtra as to how politically “ influential “ Soma promoters are.

    So now MMRCL will also justify that the delay in crashed does not matter as the section 3 Tunnelling will not be ready for at least 18/20 months from now.

    That will be very weird way explaining and justifying an essentially political decision the cost of which will be borne by the common Mumbaikar


  12. Priyesh says:

    You said 4 year delay..
    Won’t this delay have any financial implications?
    And another thing you forgot to mention is-land has some private persons claiming ownership…what if those guys take a stay from court?
    Man…every hour delay has financial implications.

  13. User says:

    A 4 year delay on a 30,000+ crore project will have massive financial implications on just interest and maintenance of finished facilities alone. Not even counting the loss in opportunity cost due to a non functioning urban transport project, lost lives on the suburban network and the lost trust of investors. The true cost of this delay will be in the thousands of crores, if not much much more

  14. Manish says:

    The only advantage and this can be big is if the line 3 is extended till kanjur completely and not for depot purposes alone giving interchange to people at central line kanjur station,line 4 thane Wadala one,new proposed line coming from kanjur to Badlapur across the thane creek through Ghansoli,plus entire Powai Chandivli belt.But then it will majorly reduce the frequency of kanjur Lokhandwala trains on line 6.

  15. Pradyumna says:

    Lakhs of shanties and slums can kill lakhs of tress in the Arrey Colony, but they are a safe vote bank. If you enter from L& T side towards Goregaon, lakhs of Tees cleared up to create new slums. Possibly Bangladeshis penetrated and settled there to vote.
    Middle class who paid, will pay for metro are left to travel like donkeys, monkeys in world’s worst public transport systems (locals). This govt lost all credibility and certainly my vote after joining Khangress. Mumbai is no more known as a megapolis, it’s Slumbai, it’s a big village now. No outside professionals, talent is attracted here unless forcefully sent to Mumbai. Delhi and other metros are progressive, they think about future. Bullet train a national pride stopped, it’s now turn of Ahmedabad to Delhi and Delhi to East. Investors should leave this city. 25 years in city spent with a hope of better tomorrow, all money taxes went to politicians. People traveled like cattle. Want financial capital tag to be removed, Bangalore or Delhi shall be the new financial capital. Delhi is already Economic capital of country with highest GDP. Matter of time this city gets ruined

    • Jayathisrinivasan says:

      Very valid points.Citizens sweated for the city, and it gave them nothing.Time to kick the city off the map.Move to more welcoming cities.

  16. Sandeep Anirudhan says:

    Please read the reasoning on this post on Aarey Forest FB Page:

    The Metro Guy has missed the main point.

    That Metro3 & Metro6 lines will merge.

    If you sit in the metro at Cuffe Parade you can go upto KanjurMarg. You will get Eastern suburbs & Central Railway connectivity to the Metro3 line.

    You will also get a Western Suburb connectivity to Versova/Lokhandwala.

    The benefits of this seamless travel are significant- for all years to come.

    He has also missed that having a common Depot saves substantial costs in common machinery & staff. Savings in costs year after year.

    He claims there will be a Rs 100 Crore cost to make a ramp, and forgets that the track always continued.

    Only this time the track will be stilts, not on ground.

    Stilts that will save the environment, just like a sea link is less environmentally damaging that a reclaimed road.

    He misses the cost benefits of half costs by having one Depot plot instead of two.

    The benfits of merging the Metro3 & Metro6 likes are incredibly positive.

    Benefits that will be seen for many many years to come.

    And, all this at a lower construction cost. Not at a higher cost.

    And lastly, he has missed completely the environmental benefits to Mumbai city by protecting the Aarey Forest & Mithi River Flood Plain.

    Flood damage costs to Mumbai, due to destruction of the Aarey floodplain, itself exceed the Metro costs.

    Sad to see that such a learned person has missed all these positives. All these cost benefits.

    Perhaps a visit to Aarey may help open his eyes 🌳 we would be happy to show him around

    • Ashok says:

      Sir absolutley right, self explanatory and common sense o ly this much is sufficient to say as ecological disaster is something that will take more lifes lost in seconds compared to people falling off suburban trains.

    • Himanshu Doria says:

      Stop with this non-sense.

      Combining depot is going to unnecessarily increase the complexity of depot operation, not to mention there is a large question on the proposed land site large enough to include stabling line for 48 Trains, with 31 8-coach trains and 17 6-coach trains, along with Unloading Bays, Workshop Lines, Inspection Lines, Depot Control Center, Staff Quarters. Construction of such Depot, if possible is going to be very costly and not worth the trouble. A Metro Depot is not some car parking, it is an engineered structure just like the mainline with its own signalling system and SOP of Working.

      From Civil POV, the section between Aarey and Kanjurmarg now have to be redesigned with stations upgraded to support 8 coach trains also along with 6- coach trains, leading to an increase in the Right of The Way for the stations, which would increase the chances of inter-agency and private land acquisition conflicts in the future. Not to mention the civil tenders for this section would have to be cancelled and erected structures would have to be demolished and new tenders would have to be floated, which would be possible only when the DDC gives the updated design documents, which is also a problem since new DDC have to be hired for this change. This re-tendering, demolishing process is going to take atleast 2 years.

      From Signalling POV, the vendor of Signalling system for Line-3 and Line-6 now have to be same, single vendor tender have to be floated for Line-6 which is going to be Alstom, this would be costly since single tenders are a costly affair. Plus the PSD system complexity have now increased by several times. How can a PSD system would be able to support both 6 and 8 coach trains on this line ? The time table preparation for this line is going to be a nightmare, bunching would occur in the common section, headway for both the lines would get increased.

      Any step that is going to lead to cancellation of tenders, rehiring of DDCs, unwanted glitches in the operation and a conservative delay of 4 years, with out solving the alleged problem is a stupid decision and should be ridiculed mercilessly.

      The funding agency JICA is definitely not going to be Happy about this.

      The Aarey Depot site is not a forest no matter how much untruths are propogated by vested interests. It has no endemic local flora and fauna. It has no tribals living there. It is a govt land formerly reserved for a Dairy farm.

      The floods in Mumbai is caused by poor drainage system, encroachment on mangrove lands by slums, land mafias.

      There are no benefits of this decision, it is decision taken by egotistical myopic leadership which has refused to listen to the people with skin in the game and instead listened to the people who get their science knowledge from weekly gossip magazines.

      • Clevin Gomes says:

        U r Right sir, but ye activists samjhe toh na. They have ruin the entire plan of the Metro. Depot should be built in Aarey, bcoz Kanjurmarg is not big enough and it’s a marshy land, which will take 2 years only for levelling the soil. Which obviously lead to increasing Construction cost. We Mumbaikers need Depot in Aarey only.

      • Nab says:

        Very good point made himanshu. Only if these activitists understood a bit of engineering and project management.

    • Shantanu Khandkar says:

      The Aarey Forest post is hilarious in its ignorance. The point is not that the two lines will merge. The point is that one line is hopelessly behind the other line which will mean that Metro-3 will get needlessly delayed.

      As far as the floodplain argument goes, the new site is also a floodplain. In fact looking at historical satellite imagery of Aarey site and the Kanjurmarg site, they are identical. So all this effort has achieved in reality precisely nothing. We just moved the project from one site to another worse site and now we are coming up with half-assed explanations.

      Also, please take a look at the Aarey site. There are several buildings which have already come up. The site is not going back to being a grassland the way it was before (it was not a dense forest, that is an outright fabrication). So, again, this is a move done specifically to satisfy the egos of our honorable ministers and the ‘activists’.

      Just to conclude, people who allow an entire coastline to be destroyed for building a coastal road which will only serve people with private vehicles should not talk about the environment especially when they have just delayed a public transport project.


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