Mumbai: The much awaited Dahanu-Churchgate Western Railway suburban rail route was inaugurated on Tuesday by Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on the 160th anniversary of the Indian Railways.

In another new for Mumbai’s Central Railway infrastructure, a posh-looking new station complex was also inaugurated at suburban Kurla’s Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT), which is being described by the railways as the commuters’ airport.

After years of delay, the electric multiple unit train services on the 124-km Dahanu-Churchgate route will bring in enormous respite to rail commuters. Bansal, who flagged off this new line at Dahanu Road railway station, also inaugurated the Virar car shed.

The railway minister said this rail connectivity would go a long way in helping improve the economic conditions of tribals living in the region. He also said that since Mumbai is the economic capital and contributes a major percentage to the GDP, it would always be given priority in provision of services and upgrading of infrastructure, especially for people living in the suburbs.

Out of the 23 million railway commuters across the country, 53 per cent were suburban rail travellers and Mumbai’s suburban section constituted 61 per cent of it. Therefore, the minister assured, Mumbai would receive maximum benefits.

The 20 services to be introduced will stop at all stations between Dahanu Road and Virar and then as a fast train between Virar and Churchgate in south Mumbai where offices and business centres are located. There will also be services to and from Dadar in central Mumbai.

The suburban rail network has now become the lifeline of the city carrying more than 36 million commuters daily. The history of EMU trains in Western Railways suburban section in Mumbai dates back to 1928 when they were first introduced. Meanwhile, the LTT terminus which was inaugurated Tuesday evening, also took three years to be revamped. But it was worth the wait as the station complex now offers a pleasant, spacious environment with a massive 3,300-sq metre concourse. Built on a 50,000-sq metre-land, it has five turbo ventilators installed in each of the arched rows to pull out hot air. With mezzanine levels on either ends, there are food courts and retiring rooms for passengers. A huge mural in the building has been designed by students of JJ School of Arts.

Once a two-platform terminus serving passengers mainly travelling south, especially to Kerala, the overcrowded and chaotic station has now become a swanky train station.