If all the proposed metro and monorail projects were to be executed effectively and started rolling on time, Mumbai - the city of dreams - would soon be a commuters´ paradise.
Suggestions for having flexible work timings are apparently being considered by the state government, considering the immense load on the suburban transit system during the peak hours. According to the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) Report, Mumbai suburban railway network is one of the world´s busiest networks. Running 2,813 trains, it carries almost 80 lakh passengers daily. Of the total number of passengers in the MMR region, 52 per cent travel by the suburban railway system. The saturated suburban transit system of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and the consequent proliferation in the fatality rate due to overloading has long been raising alarms. To de-congest the roads with their soaring traffic density and mitigate the burden on the suburban transit system, metro rail and monorail systems were heralded in the MMR. With a slew of projects in the pipeline, the mass rapid transit system (MRTS) is being hailed as a panacea for the commuting woes in the region. There has been a growing interest among policymakers about the relevance of rail-based systems in India to address the mobility needs of the expanding population in the cities. While evaluating different mass transit options for Indian cities, metro systems are often given preference due to the fact that road-based bus systems cannot cater to capacity requirements as much as metro and monorail systems. In addition to this, these are perceived to have higher levels of comfort, safety, speed and efficiency than bus systems, making them more attractive to both policymakers and potential users of the system.
The limitations in expanding the suburban rail network have led the government to chalk out the ambitious plan of laying 170-km of metro rail network in the MMR by 2020. To de-congest the existing public transport systems and increase mobility across the region, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) through the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) is attempting to successfully implement the seven proposed metro rail corridors in Mumbai.
Work on the three metro corridors is expected to be awarded after June. Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation, which is a JV between the government of India and the state, hopes to launch the construction of Mumbai Metro III and Dahisar to DN Nagar and Dahisar east to Andheri east routes after June this year.
The Navi Mumbai Metro is planned to consist of five lines, totalling 106.4 km. All the phases of Line 1 (Belapur-Pendhar-Kalamboli-Khandeshwar line) will be constructed and funded by City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO). The implementing agencies for Lines 2 and 3 will be Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority respectively. The estimated project cost of Line 1 is estimated to be Rs.4,068 crore.
The 8.9 km Wadala-Chembur monorail will be extended to a 20-km corridor and the Mumbaikars would be able to benefit from is the Phase-2 of the monorail between Jacob Circle and Wadala. The opening of Phase-2 between Jacob Circle and Wadala is expected to solve the problem of fewer commuters using the monorail.
Mumbai Metro One
The introduction of Mumbai Metro Line 1 has significantly reduced the journey time from 71 minutes to 21 minutes between Versova and Ghatkopar. It is the main trunk route as it provides access to MIDC, SEEPZ and other commercial establishments which employ lakhs of people. According to the Mumbai Metro One Private Limited (MMOPL) spokesperson, ¨Mumbai Metro Line 1 has been EBITDA-positive (EBITDA = Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation) for the last 10 months of its operations now.¨
The alignment has proved to be a breakthrough in providing the much-needed connectivity between the Eastern and Western suburban railway lines at Ghatkopar and Andheri respectively. ¨As the successful running of Mumbai Metro Line One has made amply evident, addition of other lines of a mass rapid transit system (MRTS) like Metro would only serve to help declog our roads of traffic and decongest the suburban railway network,¨ asserts the MMOPL spokesperson.
A significant operational challenge that the metro rail corridor is faced with is lack of adequate space to accommodate passengers in case of exigencies. ¨Owing to the unique layout of the existing structures on the busy route along which the Mumbai Metro One corridor has been constructed, space was a huge constraint. As a result, size of the stations had to be optimised, leading to less platform width at the key locations of Ghatkopar and Andheri, which witness the highest footfall due to interchange between metro and suburban railway network,¨ avers the spokesperson.
MUMBAI METRO THREE
The work on the 33.5-km Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ metro line is likely to take-off by mid-2016, and it is slated to commence operations by 2020. RITES Ltd has prepared the detailed project report (DPR) for Mumbai Metro Line 3. ¨The DPR for was prepared about three years back. MMRC is implementing it with support of a GC,¨ says a RITES official.
The cost of this corridor is estimated at Rs.23,136 crore ($3.4 billion). JICA will provide financial assistance in the form of a soft loan amounting to Rs.13235 crore ($1.9 billion) for the Rs.23,136 crore ($3.4 billion) project. JICA will fund 57.2 per cent of the equity. ¨Our funding for Mumbai Metro Line 3 is being extended in Tranches. So far the first Tranche loan amounting to JPY 71 billion has been sanctioned. JICA has recently signed a loan agreement with the Government of India for providing the first tranche of 71,000 million yen (Rs. 4,553 crore),¨ states Tomohide Ichiguchi, Senior Representative, JICA India.
With regard to financing the other metro rail corridors, Ichiguchi says, ¨As expressed by H.E. Mr Miyazawa, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan, in September, 2015, Japanese side is positive for further cooperation in the new metro projects in Maharashtra if the Government of India requests the Government of Japan.¨
NAVI MUMBAI METRO
The progress on the Phase-I of the Navi Mumbai Metro Civil Works is claimed to be nearly 60 per cent. ¨CIDCO has embarked on a Turnkey Single Contract for all Metro Systems to facilitate single point responsibility for integration and interface of the Metro Systems together with three years Maintenance Responsibility,¨ reveals a CIDCO official. This implementation model is said to be the first of its kind in India. In Phase-I, CIDCO has laid emphasis to equip the Navi Mumbai Metro with the latest technology and adapt the size which could in future offer seamless integration with the various corridors planned in MMR Region. ¨While there have been issues in relation to the Metro Crossings over Railway Land, National & State Highway and the raising of EHVT overhead lines, most of these are getting sorted out and we expect to commission Line-1 in mid-2017. The Phase-II & Phase-III are also planned to be taken up shortly,¨ remarks the official.
A RITES official states, ¨RITES Ltd was awarded the work for æDPR for Lines 3 and 4 and Validation of DPR of Line 2 of Navi Mumbai Metro´ in November 2015. A metro study takes significant amount of time as it involves collection of traffic data, transport demand forecasting, topographical and geotechnical surveys, alignment and system design, etc.¨
The study is expected to be completed by June 2016. The actual commencement of project will depend on various state and central government approvals and its funding after the completion of DPR.
Most of the metro rail projects in India are Brown Field projects. The challenge is to maintain the construction speed in the environment of various restrictions, towards working space, without impeding traffic movement and giving due consideration to avoid air and noise pollution in residential zones and obtaining clearances from the various Departments. Metro projects of such scale generally take around four to five years for completion, given the complexity and the interdependencies.
The success of large infrastructure projects would largely depend upon the availability of cheaper sources of funds and therefore funding from international agencies like JICA and World Bank is extremely important. Metro projects are highly capital intensive in nature with a long gestation period. Interest cost constitutes the largest chunk of the total cost for any metro project and most of the large projects are able to meet only the operating cost during its initial years of operation.
In order to reduce the financial stress on the infrastructure projects, it is important that the interest burden be reduced so that there is no compromise on the other operational and safety requirements or standards. There is a need for the government to ensure that the entire sector can receive such funding and not only the government projects. ¨If the benefits which are granted government metros are also granted to Mumbai Metro One, Mumbai Metro One would be self-sustainable at the existing fares,¨ affirms the MMOPL spokesperson.
Success of any metro project in terms of ROI would have different connotation for different companies as the financing terms are not similar for everyone. For DMRC, the majority of its funds are financed from JICA due to sovereign grantees provided by GOI which comes with a very low rate of interest whereas the private sectors do not have any access to such cheaper funds. However, the metro projects in India are yet to attain positive returns on its investments. Metro rail projects have high construction cost & low IRR. This factor is one major hurdle to attract private sector equity participation in the PPP mode.
There is a need for the urban transportation planners to give more focus to seamless connectivity and ensure that planning for first and last mile connectivity shall be undertaken along with the planning for the infrastructure facility itself. In case of inadequate first and last mile connectivity, there are chances that the infrastructure facility shall remain un-utilised.
Mega infrastructure projects aimed at easing traffic congestion and pollution woes are in the pipeline, but implementation has been nothing short of a fiasco. However, seamless connectivity will remain no distant dream if a collaborative effort is put forward in a cohesive manner.
Robust planning and a complete road map regarding right of way, land or project affected persons, environmental issues, various approvals or permissions are to be structured to address in a time-bound manner through one window. The planning for the infrastructure development needs to be undertaken keeping in view the interplay amongst various sub-sectors, viz., roads, express ways, mass rapid transit systems, smart cities, etc. Standalone planning and implementation of any one of the sub-sector creates imbalance in the intra and inter city planning and project implementation.
Apart from cohesive development, the government needs to revamp policies to promote private sector participation providing a well-defined road map of projects, appropriate and stable regulatory system or mechanism and a strong political will to take necessary decisive steps to address road blocks in a time-bound manner.
¨Citizens in next 10 years shall have a choice of public transport based on efficiency¨
Nilaya Varma, Partner and Head, Government and Healthcare, KPMG in India
How are Mumbai Metro Line 1 and Monorail Phase 1 faring with respect to profitability?
The Mumbai Metro Line 1 (Ghatkopar to Versova) and Monorail Phase 1(Jacob Circle-Wadala-Chembur) are comparatively new compared to Delhi Metro. In fact the Monorail - Jacob Circle-Chembur link is yet to get completed.
Considering the average daily ridership of approximately 3 lakh, Mumbai Metro is faring well in terms of profitability. Since Phase 1 of Monorail is yet to complete, analysing the profitability will be premature.
What is the current status of the mass urban transportation of MMR?
In 2005, MMRDA had conducted a study on Comprehensive Transport Strategy for MMR. Following initiatives are on the drawing board for comprehensive Urban Transport:
1.Formation of Unified Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Seamless travel between BEST, Suburban Railways, Taxis, Autorickshaws, Public transport, etc)
2.Conversion of AC coaches for suburban Trains
3.Building new connectivitiy like Virar to Alibaug expressway, MTHL, Eastern Freeway, Malad to Bandra Sea link, Worli to Nariman point Sealink, etc
With five smart cities on cards for MMR, is the progress on the upcoming metro lines satisfactory? Don´t the delays escalate the project costs and affect the economic viability?
Yes. The delay is predominantly due to land acquisitions in a land scarce metropolis Mumbai. The project cost will be determined on the development incentives such as Transit Oriented Development (TOD), where the project management company gets additional FSI to sale as TDR in the market to adjoining plots of Metro corridor. Hence the economic viability is totally market driven, creating a win-win situation for MMRDA as well as developers.
Can metro and monorail systems effectively resolve the traffic congestion issues of MMR? What can the citizens look forward to?
Yes. The citizens in next 10 years shall have a choice of public transport based on efficiency and willingness to pay. MMRDA is also working on Integrated Ticketing System that shall provide a Cash card for citizens and choice for citizens to travel by any mode of public transport. The bottom line is to discourage citizens to travel by their own private vehicle by making an efficient, affordable and reliable public transport.
- Ratna Nair