Monday, August 30, 2010

Metro rail’s date with Bangalore in December

Metro rail’s date with Bangalore in December
Mahesh Kulkarni / Bangalore August 29, 2010, 18:20 IST
Come December, Bangalore will become the third Indian city after Kolkata and Delhi to start operating metro rails.

Under the first phase of Namma Metro ("my metro" in Kannada), a 7.5-km stretch between Baiyappanahalli and M G Road on the eastern line is set to be finished in three years and eight months, thus becoming the fastest metro rail project the country has seen so far. Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) had started civil work for this stretch in April 2007.


This will eclipse the astonishing success of Delhi Metro, which took four years and three months to start the first 8.3-km stretch between Shahdara and Tis Hazari in December 2002. Kolkata Metro, which is run by the railway ministry, started its commercial run in 1984.
"We would have completed the 7.5-km Reach-1 in three years flat, but got delayed by eight months due to protests by traders and shopkeepers on the busy CMH Road in Indiranagar," said a senior BMRCL official.

On the technology front, too, BMRCL is ahead of Delhi. It would be the second (after Kolkata Metro) to make use of the third rail system to draw power to run the train, which is considered environment-friendly. DMRCL uses overhead cables to supply electricity.

The first phase of Bangalore Metro will become functional in the following stages: The eastern line by December 2010, the northern line by third quarter of 2011, and the western and southern lines by the third quarter of 2012. It comprises two corridors - East-West Corridor from Baiyappanahalli to Mysore Road covering 18.1 km and the North-South corridor from Hessaraghatta to Puttenahalli covering 23.7 km.

Once completed, Bangalore Metro will have 40 stations - 33 elevated and seven underground. The only interchange station common to both the corridors would be located underground at Majestic. When fully commissioned, the metro rail will serve 1.9 million passengers per day.

However, Bangalore Metro costs more than Delhi. The cost of construction per km is estimated at Rs 276.40 crore (total cost is fixed at Rs 11,609 crore for Phase-I) as compared to the average cost of Rs 162.63 crore per km for the first phase of Delhi Metro, with a 13.01-km underground corridor and a 52.1-km elevated track.

"Our costs are higher compared to Delhi because of the soil conditions in Bangalore. We had to face the problem of rocky terrain under the earth. It takes more time to blast rocky patches when compared to alluvial soil in Delhi, which is smooth and takes less time to dig. The risk insurance rates are also high, adding to the rise in cost as well as increase in the costs of land acquisition," said U A Vasanth Rao, general manager (finance), BMRCL.

He said that another reason for the rise in costs was because the machineries to cut rock for underground stretches were imported from Japan at Rs 250 crore each. Work on the 8.8-km underground stretch is likely to start soon.

In another first to its credit, the first phase of Bangalore Metro will run on standard gauge tracks as compared to Delhi Metro, which started its inaugural run on broad gauge tracks. Also, BMRCL is yet to acquire more than 1,000 private and public properties and land, unlike in Delhi, which was contributed by the government.

According to BMRCL, civil work for Reach 1 is expected to be completed by September, while work at the repair workshop is expected to be over by November.

A total of 100 candidates have been recruited for training as station controllers and locopilots. Of them, 83 have cleared the final selection. Once they return from training at DMRCL, the trial run will start early November.

BEML Ltd, which has bagged the contract to supply coaches, will be importing the first five train sets from its partner in Korea, Hyundai Rotem. It has already put on display a mock train at Anil Kumble Circle for public viewing.

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