Mumbai, Feb 27: Three much-awaited railway foot overbridges (FOBs), constructed by the Indian Army in less than three months, were inaugurated on Tuesday by three common Mumbai commuters for public use on the city's suburban section of the Indian Railways, officials said.
The new FOBs are at Elphinstone Road, Currey Road and Ambivali stations here on the congested suburban networks of Western Railway (WR) and Central Railway (CR).
The first inaugural plaque (Elphinstone Road) was unveiled by a flower-vendor Shivraj Konde, the second one (Currey Road) by a Dabbawala, Sopan More, and the third (Ambivali) by a fisherwoman, Lata C. Koli.
The honours were done in the presence of Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Defence Suresh Bhamre and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, state ministers, parliamentarians, legislators, railway top brass and others.
Speaking on the occasion, Goyal expressed gratitude to the Indian Army for undertaking the mammoth task and completing it in a record time.
"Since October, 2017, 20 FOBs have been built over the Mumbai suburban section, including three by the Indian Army, and the rest by CR and WR. Another 22 FOBs shall be taken up by June and 56 more shall be provided in 12 months," Goyal said.
"With a total of 100 new FOBs for Mumbai commuters, and other major projects in the city, we shall cherish the dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of 'New India, New Railways'," the minister added.
Earlier, Goyal, Bhamre and Fadnavis surprised many home-bound commuters by catching a slow local train from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Parel station on the CR for the inauguration ceremony in the afternoon.
The decision to hand over the FOBs' construction to the Bombay Engineering Group (BEG), a division of the Indian Army's Corps of Engineers, came in the wake of the stampede at Elphinstone Road FOB on September 29, 2017, in which 23 commuters were killed and 40 injured.
Following the huge outrage among the eight million-plus Mumbai commuters, who use Mumbai's lifeline daily, Goyal requested Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to help construct the crucial FOBs on a "war-footing".
Initially, the FOBs were scheduled to be completed by the January 31 deadline set by the state and the Centre, officials said.
The construction was delayed due to several reasons, including a change in the alignment and an additional staircase at the Elphinstone Road FOB on WR connecting to Parel on CR, shifting the site of the FOB at Currey Road, and an additional staircase, requisitioning material from various parts of the country and other local issues since the work was completed with thousands of suburban trains zooming up and down daily, they added.
This is the first time that the Indian Army has constructed such bridges for the Indian Railways in a congested urban setup like Mumbai.
The construction process involved soil testing, designing the structure, construction launch of the Bailey Bridge and the final commissioning of the pre-cast bridges, called Bailey Bridges, which can be built quickly and are common in the country's border regions or difficult terrain.
The FOB at Elphinstone Road is 73.1 metre long and 3.65 metre wide and was built at a cost of Rs 10.44 crore within 117 days.
The Currey Road FOB is 30 metre long and 3.5 metre wide, built at the CSMT end from the east side platform at a cost of around Rs 3 crore.
The Ambivali FOB connecting two platforms is 20 metre long and 3.5 metre wide, built at a cost of Rs 2.70 crore.
The three bridges shall be initially manned by the railway security and are expected to significantly ease commuter rush at all the three stations.