V IE WPOIN TS
VOICES ON PROJECT MANAGEMENT
More than a year of planning helps a team finish off a seemingly impossible project
in just a couple of days.
BY JACOB ZACHARIAH, PMP
Local trains had also been lengthened by three cars, and
Masjid became the only station in the network with platforms so short that trains were forced to halt twice on each
trip. And the platforms couldn’t be increased because the
stone bridge stood in the way.
With the station’s close proximity to the terminus, six
tracks were not enough for the ever-burgeoning rail traffic.
Another track was desperately needed to reduce delays and
ease the burden on the network. But retaining walls on
both sides of the station left very little space for laying a
seventh track. It could only be possible if every existing
track was realigned.
PICTURE THIS: A railway project in Mumbai, India
has been planned with three objectives:
1. Break down and rebuild a stone bridge
2. Extend the length of four rail platforms
3. Make space for another track
And this is all to be accomplished with minimal interrup-
tion to rail service and in just two days. (Yes, 48 hours.)
India is a fabulous land where things do get done, just
not very quickly. The country is like a lumbering elephant
that ambles along—but please, no pushing or nudging.
Slowly but surely, we reach our destination, with the operative word being slowly.
Needless to say, the aggressive plan for the Masjid station project was audacity personified, even by Western (or
any advanced country’s) standards.
The train station lies about 1. 5 kilometers (roughly 1 mile)
from Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus in central Mumbai.
The first stop en route from the terminus, it became
extremely congested, even in a city quite accustomed to
big crowds. Complicating matters even more, the station
had only one entrance: a ramp to an arched stone bridge
built in 1868. With the railway deciding to switch to
alternating current, the height of the bridge had to be
increased per Indian law.
Window of Opportunity
Work on the project would have to either be done in phases
or rail traffic had to be suspended. In the Mumbai area,
stopping rail traffic is akin to sacrilege—80 long-distance
trains pass through Masjid station every day. Adding to
that, local trains arrive and depart every two minutes during peak times.
But the team spotted an opening. In India, 15 August
is Independence Day and a national holiday. It happened
to fall on a weekend last year, so there was a window from
10: 30 p.m. on Friday the 14th to 10: 30 p.m. on Sunday
In his post, “What Every Entrepreneur Needs to
Know,” Sanjay Saini wrote:
My CEO always told me that to be a good project manager, you must be an entrepreneur. I took that seriously
and started my own part-time business. And I discovered that to be a good entrepreneur requires a lot of
project management experience.
>>For the rest of this post and others, check out the
blog at PMI.org/voices.