India's Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the 247.5km Daund-Manmad doubling project in the state of Maharashtra, which is expected to cost an estimated Rs20.8bn ($324m).

The development is expected to be completed by 2021-2022 and will facilitate the operations of goods and coaching trains, while also manage the increasing levels of traffic and preventing usual delays in service.

It is also expected to ease congestion along the line, which forms an important connection between the northern part of India and the southern regions via the city of Pune.

Additionally, the project is slated to reduce journey times to famous pilgrimage destinations such as Shirdi and Shani-Shignapur, and decrease pressure along the Mumbai route.

"The project is slated to reduce journey times to famous pilgrimage destinations such as Shirdi and Shani-Shignapur, and decrease pressure along the Mumbai route."

The doubling of the line is intended to improve economic activity in the region as the industries can now transport additional capacity to fulfil the growing requirements, as well as support the development of the Pune, Ahmednagar and Nashik districts of Maharashtra.

The line capacity utilisation of the Daund-Manmad section was 156% during 2014-2015, including maintenance blocks.

Works related to the doubling of the Bhigwan-Mohol and Hotgi-Gulbarga lines on the Mumbai-Chennai main route are currently underway, and traffic over the Daund-Manmad section is expected to increase significantly following the completion of these projects.

The CCEA has also approved the 161km-long Barabanki-Akbarpur doubling project in the state of Uttar Pradesh, as part of a separate development.

The Rs13.1bn ($204m) project will cover the districts of Barabanki and Faizabad, and will benefit the entirety of the route between Lucknow and Varanasi.