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Monorail as an urban rapid transit

Monorail as an urban rapid transit

The best suited approach to increase the efficiency of transport is to seamlessly integrate better and immediate modes of commuting that offer reliable and quality services, says Kanesan Veluppillai.

Keeping urban infrastructure at focus, the government has announced 2010-2020 as the decade of innovation in transportation. A sustainable, cost-efficient and environment-friendly tra­nsport system is what modern India envisions of today. Improving public transport is the need of the hour and the best suited approach to increase the efficiency is to seamlessly integrate better and immediate modes of commuting that offer reliable and quality services.

Monorail thus fits in as one such commendable transport solution that has carved a new dimension in the infrastructural framework of the Indian cities. The numbers of vehicles in the cities are increasing causing traffic congestion and hence it’s important to give the citizens an easy to implement, fast-moving and com­fortable transportation option.

So at a time, when the India cities are implementing various modes of Mass Rapid Transit Systems (MRTS) alongside expansion of conventional modes of transport to serve the huge influx from rural pockets, monorail finds its way as the multimodal transport system that promises to shape up the infrastructure in an organised manner like never before sidelining the daily transport woes of the public.

Indian government took a giant leap in urban transportation by giving a nod to the country’s first monorail in Mumbai in 2008. There are several factors that make monorail a ‘must have transport’ in Indian urban cities. For instance, In Mumbai, it is estimated that over 11 million people travel by public transport daily of which more than 60 per cent commute by the suburban railway networks. A huge chunk of the masses commute by the state buses, across long stretches from one corner to another. In New Delhi though metro rail serves as an efficient commuting platform for bulks, considering the amount of people who migrate to these places, there is a crying need for better mobility. Recognising this need the state government and urban infrastructure authorities in different cities are trying to put together a comprehensive infrastructure makeover plan to include monorail as an integrated and diverse commuting system.

Monorail comes with all the advantages of a public transport network that makes it potentially viable and efficient. To start with, constructing an MRTS is a huge concern in Indian cities where alignment of routes for tracks is difficult due to lesser availability of land. But monorail is made to pass through routes where there is little or no scope for road widening. It easily takes tight turns and navigates narrow corridors saving travel time. Besides, monorail is elevated and runs on a single beam that leads to lesser space for tracks, so it does not involve dismantling of structures or relocation of settlements for construction. This makes monorail an easy to execute and accessible mode of public travel. Moreover, monorail is a transit mode that offers convenience without any environmental downside. The train moves on rubber tyres on concrete beams creating less noise and vibration during operation and is powered by electric motors which are silent, efficient and clean. In Mumbai, it is estimated to save approximately 200 tonne of CO2 a day. In terms of the quality of travel a monorail aims to provide, it is highly cost effective for it offers increased cost savings all along the way of its construction.

Presently, India is ready to welcome a new wave in urban transit. Moving forward, urban transport has to be an integrated and diverse system with various modes of transport – buses, metro, monorail and private transport systems aligning themselves to form a multimodal system that supports the ever-growing demand and needs of rapidly growing cities. Monorail is here for the long haul and other cities are soon to follow the line with it becoming the ‘transportation of the future’ benefiting a large section of the urban milieu.

The author is Group Chief Operating officer—Transport Solutions, Scomi Group Berhad.

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