India: All eyes on new expressway which will cut Mumbai-Delhi travel time

It will be ready by March 2023 and will pass through Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, MP, Gujarat and Maharashtra

By Aftab H. Kola

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Image used for illustrative purpose. Photo: Reuters
Image used for illustrative purpose. Photo: Reuters

Published: Tue 21 Dec 2021, 10:14 AM

Mumbai and Delhi, two of India's largest cities, are set to get closer — by road — as the country is building an expressway that would drastically reduce the travel time between them.

The work on the 1,380km-long eight-lane greenfield access-controlled Mumbai-Delhi Expressway is going on in full swing, and the road is expected to be fully ready for public use by March 2023.

The existing Delhi-Mumbai National Corridor (NH 48 of the Golden Quadrilateral) is one of the busiest and most important corridors of National Highways network, connecting the national capital with the financial capital of the country.

This is currently insufficient to cater the increasing traffic movement and thus a greenfield alignment was the only viable alternative for enhancing highway capacity between Delhi and Mumbai.

Estimated to cost Rs980 billion, the under construction expressway is a part of Bharatmala Pariyojana, India’s largest infrastructure programme that aims to develop 34,800km of national highway corridors in 600-plus districts.

The expressway will pass through Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, and reduce the travel time between the two metros to 12 hours from the existing 20 hours or so.


Train travel between the two cities is shorter by Tejas Express, the country’s fastest train, which takes a little less than 16 hours.

The expressway will be dotted with 94 wayside amenities — resorts, charging stations for electric vehicles, fuel stations, hospitals, commercial complexes, restaurants, food courts, fuel stations, facilities for truckers, logistics parks, etc.

The magnificent scale of the project can be gauged by the amount of cement and steel being used. The expressway will use eight million tonnes of cement and 1.2 million tonnes of steel with five million man-days of employment being generated. Technology has been incorporated at every stage of the project.

The expressway is tech-enabled with features such as a closed ETC-enabled toll system, advanced traffic management systems and smart pavement designs to increase longevity.

Two iconic eightlane, 4km-long tunnels are being built across the Mukundra Sanctuary in Rajasthan and the Matheran eco-sensitive zone in Maharashtra to considerably reduce the impact on flora and fauna.

Three animal underpasses and five overpasses with a combined length of 7km to ensure unencumbered wildlife movement will be part of the expressway.

There will be an annual reduction of 850 million kg of carbon dioxide equivalent to the planting of 40 million trees. In addition, over two million trees and shrubs are being planted on the roadside.

The project features a spur to the Jewar airport (in Noida near Delhi) and the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai.

The expressway will improve connectivity to commercial centres like Jaipur, Kishangarh, Ajmer, Kota, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Bhopal, Ujjain, Indore, Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat.

The stretches of Delhi — Dausa (Jaipur) — Lalsot spanning 214km and Vadodara — Ankleshwar (100km) will open in March 2022.

Another segment, Kota — Ratlam — Jhabua (250km), is slated for opening by November 2022.

March 2023 will see the opening of three more sections — Lalsot — Kota (238km); Jhabua — Vadodara (148km); and Ankleshwar — Mumbai (Virar) (256km).

In order to facilitate more connectivity, the Delhi–Mumbai Expressway will be directly connected with various other expressways, including the Delhi–Noida Direct Flyway in Delhi, the Kundli–Manesar–Palwal Expressway in Haryana and the Ahmedabad– Vadodara Expressway in Gujarat.

In Maharashtra, it will be connected with the Mumbai–Nagpur Expressway and the Mumbai– Pune Expressway.

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