Even as free joyrides are being extended to Nagpurites on the 5-kilometre stretch from the Airport South to Khapri on the Nagpur metro rail before its formal inauguration, the federal government has plans to extend the service to the city’s outskirts using the existing broad-gauge railway tracks.
A proposal in this regard has been approved by the Ministry of Railways, Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources informed reporters on the sidelines of American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) India annual general meeting in New Delhi on Thursday.
“I thought why couldn’t the existing broad-gauge tracks be used to run the metro railway? The Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation (MAHA-Metro) will buy the rolling stock for 25 trains,” said Gadkari.
Thanking Piyush Goyal, Minister for Railways and Coal for his support, Gadkari said that metro rail services to the townships of Wardha, Bhandara, Katol and Ramtek near Nagpur will be run on the regular railway lines. The move is part of the larger plan to develop them as satellite centres around the city.
“The average speed of the proposed metro services will be 100 KM per hour. Regular passenger services that are supposed to run at a speed of 60 KM per hour are often only able to travel at 30 KM per hour as they have to slow down in order to halt at the next station. It again takes time for them to pick up speed.” Passenger train services should, therefore, be completely replaced by metro, added Gadkari.
The proposed metro rail services will comprise of four air-conditioned coaches. Two coaches in the train will be set aside for use by farmers to ferry dairy and farm produce to markets in the main city. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is expected to be signed between MAHA-Metro and the Indian Railways after the results of the Karnataka state assembly elections are declared on May 15.
Work to also commence on major Delhi, Mumbai ropeway projects
Gadkari said the government would shortly commence work on the 70-kilometre Dhaula Kuan to Manesar ropeway project.
“The project got somewhat delayed as there were some issues pertaining to safety norms. Following the safety clearance, we have received three bids that are presently being examined. We will try to give a work order in a month’s time to start work there,” he said.
Located in Haryana’s Gurugram district, Manesar’s Industrial Model Township (IMT) is host to several leading automotive component manufacturers with a global footprint.
The minister also said that the tender for India’s first and longest ropeway to connect the country’s commercial centre Mumbai to the Elephanta Island on the Arabian Sea was floated. The island is home to the famed Elephanta Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Together with its main objective of providing efficient rail evacuation systems to major ports for enhancing their capacity and throughput, the Indian Port Rail Corporation (IPRCL) is also mandated to build ropeway projects. Ajoint venture company (JVC) between the major ports under the Ministry of Shipping and Rail Vikas Nigam (RVNL), it would be entering into a joint venture with a leading global player for ropeway development across India. A consultant appointed by IPRCL had already identified 100 projects that may be economically viable. Personnel from the company had toured sites in different states to further examine their feasibility.
However, IPRCL is presently constrained for funds as it is already involved with the Rs 6,000 crore Indore to Manmad railway project. Gadkari has therefore proposed IPRCL taking up 51 per cent equity in ropeway projects while the remainder 49 per cent would be contributed by other investors. “We will then work on the project on nomination basis under the public-private partnership (PPP) mode. The government of the state where the project is located will provide us with the land acquisition notification.”
In case the project is not economically viable, the state government could provide it with free electricity for a period of ten years. “After recovering our investment during the stipulated period, we would hand over the project to the government,” assured Gadkari.
The minister emphasised that the rapid expansion in automobile population and rising pollution levels in India’s urban clusters necessitated the move towards public transport solutions running on electricity.
- Manish Pant