The Coimbatore Corporation Council resolution a couple of months ago to urge the State Government to provide mono rail facility has at least led to a healthy debate. Or so it appears if one were to look at reactions from political parties and concerned citizens.
Soon after the Council passed the resolution in September, the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam responded with a note of caution.
Alleging that the two leading Dravidian parties – the AIADMK and the DMK – have started voting for mono rail and metro rail, respectively, it said that there has been very little informed debate in the Council before it voted for mono rail.
In a release, the party's District Secretary V. Eswaran asked on what basis did the Council decide that mono rail was best suited for Coimbatore. He said that the Council ought to have first conducted a study and based on the same, should have announced a mass transit project.
In support of his arguments, he said that Kochi, a city with a population fewer than that of Coimbatore, had gone in for metro rail. The Central Government had suggested metro rail for the 19 municipal corporations that were eligible for mass transit projects and that experts themselves had suggested metro rail for Coimbatore.
He had also marshalled a few information to support his argument – that metro rail could carry three times more passengers than mono rail, the investment for a light metro project was only 10 to 20 per cent more than mono rail and the per capita investment worked out in metro rail's favour.
The Council resolution and the subsequent reaction was only after the Residents' Awareness Association of Coimbatore made a presentation in this regard. It said that Coimbatore would do well to have a mono rail project, the Governor had made a mention of this in his address in the Assembly, mono rail would occupy less space, could be completed quickly using pre-fabricated structures, etc.
It also suggested that the city could have an East-West Corridor, a Northern Loop and Southern Loop and the entire project would cost around Rs. 3,500 crore.
Now, a concerned citizen has joined the issue, suggesting that the city could very well go in for metro rail.
S. Hariharan, a retired Chief of Expansion Projects, Tata Steel, and Technical Director, M.N. Dastur & Co. Pvt. Ltd., Chennai, has said that it was wrong to deny metro rail to Coimbatore because it is a radial and not a linear city.
London, Paris, Moscow and a few other radial cities had metro rails and were operating them efficiently as well.
He said that the city had grown along arterial roads like the Avinashi Road, Trichy Road, Mettupalayam Road, Sathyamangalam Road and Thadagam Road. And most of those roads converged around Sukrawarpet and Ukkadam. Areas between these roads are thickly populated, necessitating the planning of mass transit project along these roads.
Mr. Hariharan said that a circular railway double line was already available from Irugur to Podanur, via Singanallur, Peelamedu, Coimbatore North Junction and Coimbatore Junction. And, a single linear line was available between Podanur and Mettupalayam.
The presence of those railway lines offered great scope for running a metro rail. Irugur and Podanur could be developed into main hub stations.
The circular line could be released to run metro rail between Podanur and Irugur stations. And all regular trains between Palakkad and Erode should use the existing corridor along the Noyyal and stop at the hub stations for changeover for passengers to metro rail.
Such a change, Mr. Hariharan said, should come with new stations on the circular metro rail corridor and they could be Ondipudur, Civil Aerodrome, Hope College, Vilankurichi Road, Bharathi Colony, Pappanaickenpalayam Road, Sathy Road, Sanganur, Rathinapuri and a few more.
He had also said that there was the possibility of doubling the track between Podanur and Mettupalayam, introducing new stations and running metro rail so as to fee the residents of localities that had come up between Thadagam Road and Sathyamangalam Road.
He had also suggested metro rail from Mangarai/Thadagam to Nilambur via Gandhi Park and along the Avinashi Road.
As for Trichy Road, the city could go in for a bus rapid transit system between the Podanur and Irugur junctions, so that it would link the road with the circular metro rail system he had suggested. Mono rail could also be introduced. It should be introduced on the Nava India – Avinashi Road – Peelamedu – Bharathiar Road – Cross Cut Road, - Coimbatore North Junction – 100 Feet Road – Nava India.
He had also suggested mono rail on a few other stretches.
Though suggestions keep pouring in, the comprehensive study on the city's traffic – Comprehensive Mobility Plan conducted by a consultant for the Coimbatore Corporation has suggested bus rapid transit system. The CMP said that considering the passengers per hour per direction aspect, it was advisable that the city went in for bus rapid transit system.
The capacity and passenger attractiveness made metro undesirable, which was more suited for cities like Mumbai, a linear city. Bus rapid transit system would be attractive, cheaper, effective and offer the best transit solution.
The study suggested going in for bus rapid transit system on Avinashi Road and Mettupalayam Road in the first stage, Trichy Road and Sathyamangalam Road in the second phase.