Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday inaugurated Mumbai’s newest suburban railway station, Ram Mandir, amid disruptions and chaos caused by sparring Shiv Sena & BJP workers.
Members of both parties tried to outdo each other by shouting ‘Jai Shree Ram’ slogans, hoisting their respective party’s flags and essentially claiming responsibility for the station’s completion.
Ram Mandir station has come up between Jogeshwari and Goregaon stations, and is the 37th station on Western Railway’s suburban network.
While Prabhu was initially scheduled to inaugurate the station at 4 pm today, the ceremony was delayed by around 30 minutes due to the ongoing chaos.
The station was thrown open for the public in the presence of dozens of dignitaries, including leaders from both Shiv Sena and BJP, and senior railway officials.
The first trail to halt at Ram Mandir station in the down direction will be BO 90801, which will leave Churchgate at 5.11 pm and reach Ram Mandir at 6 pm. The first train in the up direction will be BO 90830, which will depart from Borivali at 5.57 pm and reach Ram Mandir station at 6.10 pm.
The station was proposed under phase-I of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project and has been under construction for almost a decade. But, protests by locals and inability to halt existing services led to the project’s delay.
Even its inauguration, which was scheduled to take place on November 27 earlier, was delayed by almost a month.
Built at a cost of Rs 32 crore, the station will bring respite to thousands of passengers who were forced to take a bus or auto to and from Goregaon/Jogeshwari stations for their daily commute.
It has four platforms, two elevated booking offices, one FOB and two ATVMs.
Commuters boarding trains from Jogeshwari and Andheri stations during morning peak hours will benefit the most from lesser crowds, as railway authorities have decided to halt the slow trains at Ram Mandir.
Moreover, once the extension from Andheri to Goregaon is complete by March 31, trains running on the Harbour line will also halt at the newly inaugurated station.
Until a few weeks back, the station was being referred to as Oshiwara. But following demands from both BJP and Shiv Sena leaders, who wanted the station to be named after the ‘Ram Mandir’ in the vicinity, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis agreed to the proposed name and notified the railway authorities about the same on November 25.
“The vicinity near Goregaon, where this station is coming up, is called as Ram Mandir, and so, the locals have demanded renaming of the new station as Ram Mandir (instead of Oshiwara). We want you to send the demand to the Home ministry,” Goregaon MLA Vidya Thakur had told CM Fadnavis in a letter.