KARNATAKA

How metro rail compares with monorail

R. Chandrakanth

BANGALORE: The debate on which rail network — metro rail or monorail — will be viable, both financially and practically, for a burgeoning Bangalore has become polarised. And with the entry of the former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) supreme, H.D. Deve Gowda, who has questioned the viability of the metro, and the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, defending the decision, it appears that a solution to the transportation woes of Bangaloreans is not on the horizon.

The debate is all about capacities, cost-effectiveness and viability. Here is a comparison of the proposed metro and the monorail systems.

Metro rail

The first phase is expected to cover 33 km at an estimated cost (with escalation as of date) of Rs. 6,206 crores. The project is scheduled for completion in five years from the date of commencement of work. The total ridership claimed is 8.2 lakhs a day on completion of the entire project, but the population of Bangalore is less than 80 lakhs now. The metro capacity will be about 40,000 passengers an hour in each direction.

For the project, the State Government has to provide Rs. 1,807 crores, while the Centre will provide Rs. 1,447 crores, apart from a term loan of Rs. 2,953 crores. Bangalore Mass Rapid Transit Ltd. (BMRTL), the implementing authority, has cash reserves of Rs. 216 crores plus Rs. 363 crores (share of BMRTL in infrastructure cess from 1998 to 2004) and expects Rs. 915 crores (share in next five years from infrastructure cess). The cost for 1 km works out to Rs. 250 crores (underground).

After the commissioning of the project, BMRTL will have to sustain losses for six years after which it will become a viable proposition, considering the movement of traffic, according to the BMRTL Managing Director, K.N. Shrivastava.

The project runs 18.1 km in the east-west corridor and 14.9 km in the north-south direction and is expected to demolish many buildings along the way.

Monorail

The monorail proposal is for an 89.9-km stretch in two phases, covering the areas not covered by the metro. The estimated cost of the project is Rs. 4,045 crores. The promoters, who were seeking government equity of Rs. 115 crores, have now dropped the idea of getting government equity. The promoters of monorail claim that it will cost about Rs. 45 crores for 1 km. The ridership is put at 12,000 passengers an hour in each direction, with the system operating at intervals of 90 seconds. The first phase of the project, if approved, will be from Jaraganahalli to Cantonment Railway Station (18 km) and is expected to be completed in two years.

BOOT basis

The company is seeking an aggregate of 60 acres of land on the outskirts of Bangalore to put up its depot, 40-year concession to run on BOOT (build, own, operate and transfer) basis and right of way.

Metrail, the company that is behind the monorail system, claims that the project will be implemented with the least bit of inconvenience to the existing traffic network.

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