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State Government to provide Rs. 1,800 crores,

First service likely to start by the end of 2008 The system may be fully operational by 2010 Malaysian Consortium submits a proposal for driverless rail Consortium ready to work with BMRCL

Bangalore: Work on the Rs. 6,200-crore metro rail project is likely to begin by mid-March with a formal "bhoomi puja" by March end. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs is expected to give its clearance by then.

Managing Director of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) K.N. Srivastava has gone on record that considering the topography of the city and its roads, a standard gauge rather than broad gauge will be more economical and feasible. Broad gauge coaches will require a turn radius of 200 metres but those of standard gauge will need only 120 metres, he said at a recent presentation before citizens.

The cost factor will be important as BMRCL is depending on Rs. 1,800 crores from the State Government and Rs. 1,500 crores from the Centre while raising the balance from financial institutions. With the first services scheduled to start by the end of 2008 and full operation by 2010, both cost and time overruns need to be avoided.

Malaysian proposal

Meanwhile, a Malaysian consortium has said it will forward an updated proposal to the State Government, offering to participate in the metro rail project.

The Managing Director of the Malaysian consortium Kencana Kasifa Transit Systems (KKTS), whose earlier proposal for an elevated rain system was not accepted, said the fresh proposal will be with the Government before the month end. It was willing to work with BMRCL on the project with technology for a driverless rail system.

If accepted, the Malaysian consortium will bear the entire loan component of metro rail, with no government guarantees. The project will be taken up on a build, own, operate, transfer (BOOT) basis and as a private-public partnership; the State government need to take up only a 10 per cent stake. The fare can be worked out in coordination with BMRCL.

The Malaysian consortium had submitted its proposal some months ago to the then Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh, who reportedly declined to accept it.

With the change in government, there could be rethinking on the proposal with much of the city's future growth and potential new investment linked to a reliable public transit system that can reduce traffic congestion on the roads.

The finalised plans for the Metro provide for 18.1-km stretch from Mysore Road to Byappanahalli and an 18.4-km stretch from Yeshwanthpur to R.V. Road with the Kempe Gowda Bus Station becoming a turnaround hub for the north-south and east-west axis.

Initially, 40,000 commuters will be transported per hour on both directions and one train running every four minutes. Each train of coaches will carry around 1,068 passengers to start with.

The coach design is likely to be based on those used in the Delhi Metro.

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