CMRL Steps Up Towards Improving Transportation System

Pankaj Kumar Bansal, Managing Director, Chennai Metro


"When fully commissioned, the expected ridership is around 7.0 lakhs of the city metro system. After being fully operational, there will be some rationalization of other existing public transport modes with growing acceptance the vehicular movement would tend to reduce. Consequently, there will be a dip in pollution and improvement in the quality of transport system," says Mr. Pankaj Kumar Bansal, Managing Director, CMRL in an interview with S.K.Khanna.

With the inauguration of the first phase, CMRL has joined cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata to have its own Metro. What have been the challenges encountered to reach this stage?
The major challenges encountered so far have been:
  • Court cases in land acquisition at certain critical locations
  • Contract management particularly the liquidity problems faced by the Contractors
  • Failure of civil contractors
  • Diversion of utilities in collaboration with concerned stakeholders
  • In spite of acute shortage of trained manpower, CMRL recruited young talent and trained them particularly in operation & maintenance
  • Effective Traffic management during construction
  • Construction of obligatory spans (i) across Kathipara interchange by balanced cantilever technique (ii). Rail bridge over railway line at Guindy with blocks available few hours during night time
What has been the Project cost of the first phase, and its length coverage in Km?
The Chennai Metro Rail Network will provide 45 km Metro Network in the city across two Corridors i.e. Blue Line (23 km), Green Line (22 km). It will cover the major arterial roads and connects important transport hubs such as Airport, Chennai Central station, Egmore station, Chennai Mofusill Bus Terminus (CMBT), etc.

Chennai Metro

The overall sanctioned project cost is Rs.14,600 crore for the 45 Km Network. The project will be commissioned in different stages. For the Stage – I, the coverage is around 10 km on elevated section from Koyambedu to Alandur forming part of the Green Line (Corridor 2) and covering the following stations: Koyambedu, CMBT, Arumbakkam, Vadapalani, Ashok Nagar,Ekkattuthangal, and Alandur

What has been the role of JICA in providing assistance to CMRL in terms of funding and technical assistance including facilitating underground and elevated rail track construction?
JICA is providing the finance to the tune of 59% of the project cost. The loan provides for reimbursement of financial expenditure incurred for the procurement packages which are eligible such as UG construction, procurement of Rolling stocks, Power supply, Signaling & Telecom, Track works, Automatic Fare Collection, Lift & Escalators, etc. The JICA is also funding deployment of the General Consultants, which provides technical support and supervision of implementation of projects.

Alandur Station Chennai Metro

What about completing the other phases of the project, its deadline and length coverage in km?
Apart from Stage 1, Stage 1 A would cover around 9 km and it is expected to be operational by March 2016. The remaining phases in Underground section will be commissioned in various phases from June 2016 with short intervals.

It has been stated that fares of Chennai Metro are the highest as compared with other Metros. A word about the economics of the fares fixed for the Chennai Metro and possibility of bringing them at par with prevailing fares
Fixation of Metro Rail Fares is a complex exercise. There is a challenge to balance the requirements of affordability and sustainability. The Fares of the Delhi Metro Rail are also due for revision by the Fare Revision Committee. The Mumbai Metro Rail Fare Structure is similar to ours. Moreover in Chennai Case, the capital cost and operational expenditure is relatively high as compared to other Indian Metros because of more underground sections. Since the fares have been fixed after careful consideration, the same will continue.

When fully commissioned in 2018, what would its ridership be like and how the Metro system will contribute to easing of traffic congestion, reducing vehicle pollution and improving the quality of transport system in the city?
When fully commissioned, the expected ridership is around 7.0 lakhs. Once the Metro System would be fully operational, there will be some rationalization of other existing public transport modes with growing acceptance the vehicular movement would tend to reduce. Consequently, there will be a dip in pollution and improvement in the quality of transport system.

Now that Chennai has joined the elite club cities having Metro services, what is next on the agenda of CMRL to actualize and promote state urban transport policy including introduction of Mono rail service to strengthen and support feeder services along with metro services?
In terms of Policy, the public transport should be strengthened by introduction of feeder services. Further, the State Government would take a call to introduce additional public transport systems such as expansion of Metro rail network and introduction of Monorail and BRTS as and when required.
NBM&CW August 2015
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