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Telangana Formation Day

After many twists and turns, Hyderabad metro’s second phase finally in motion

It took five years for Telangana government to kick-start phase II works despite having clearing the proposal in early 2018; Airport Metro Express to be entirely funded by the government

June 01, 2023 02:55 am | Updated 01:28 pm IST - HYDERABAD

The Hyderabad Metro Rail project, launched in November 2017, is the biggest public private partnership venture to date.

The Hyderabad Metro Rail project, launched in November 2017, is the biggest public private partnership venture to date. | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

Nearly six years after the Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) was launched, the twin cities will witness the next phase of construction when the bids are finalised for the Airport Metro Express from Raidurg to Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad. This one will be a 31-km elevated, on ground and an underground section project involving a cost of ₹6,250 crore.

It took five years for the Telangana government to kick-start the second phase having cleared the proposal in early 2018 itself. Budget allocations had been announced but nothing progressed even after the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation prepared a detailed project report. Chief Minister K.Chandrasekhar Rao laid the foundation stone only in December last year.

Also read: Will Hyderabad Metro rail chug into Old City?

Interestingly, unlike other metro rail projects across the country, the Airport Metro Express will be funded entirely by the government under EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) mode. This was after it failed to attract any bidders from among infrastructure firms despite offering attractive terms — much better than what was offered to the L&T Metro Rail Hyderabad (L&TMRH) for the first phase in 2010.

Senior officials point out that in the first phase too, the contribution of the Central government was confined to just 10% of the Viability Gap Funding amounting to ₹1,458 crore. Of that, ₹254 crore is still due. A State Bank of India-led consortium of public sector banks had loaned about ₹11,000 crore to the metro project built under the public, private partnership (PPP) mode, the only such in the country.

L&TMRH and HMR bore the brunt of the separate Telangana agitation issues, and were forced to shift the alignment wherever it could not push through like in the cases of Osmania University and Koti Women’s College (now University). At these two places, instead of going into the campus, the piers had to be built on the main road. Once Telangana was carved out, a fresh challenge came in the form of a demand for changing alignment at Sultan Bazar, Legislative Assembly and the Old City.

After about 1.5 years of discussions and considering the cost escalation, the original alignment stood but the Old City line from MGBS to Falaknuma continues to remain a non-starter. Just when the service was hitting the 5-lakh passenger mark, COVID-19 pandemic led to its shut down for five months.

Also read: Hyderabad Airport Metro will be tackling two hillocks on the way

Besides, the delays in permissions and considerable reduction in the projected ridership led to a loss of about ₹1,746 crore, according to L&TMRH. It had earlier sought a ₹3,000-crore compensation but no one knows what a high-powered committee led by then chief secretary Somesh Kumar tasked to look into the demand came up with.

The same secrecy surrounds the fate of a fare revision committee report with select ‘unofficial’ leaks about the government’s reluctance to accept any fare hike. The government wants L&TMRH to run more trains, and increase coaches from three to six for each train to handle the peak-hour rush.

The concessionnaire claims all the train sets (55 of 57 train sets) are running during peak hours and it is not possible to run six-coach trains for rush hours only. It is yet to order new train sets which could take about a year to arrive, and has been threatening to sell off stake to offset the losses, which the government says is not possible without its consent!

Riders continue to complain about gaps in first and last mile connectivity and cleanliness at the stations. That’s the state of the world’s biggest PPP metro project where L&TMRH has the licence to run the project for 35 years, extendable by another 25 years, subject to fulfilment of certain conditions under concession agreement.

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