Metro June Deadline Stands, But With Rider

Phase I is almost done, and could welcome passengers in about five months, says Namma Metro MD Pradeep Singh Kharola

Published: 20th January 2016 04:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st January 2016 04:06 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU:  Phase I of Namma Metro will in all likelihood be done by June 2016, Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola said on Tuesday.

But uncertainties associated with tunnelling might push it by two or three months, he cautioned.

Making a presentation at the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Kharola said, "The Rs 13,845-crore Phase I will be ready by mid-year. It will be challenging to complete it by June 2016 but we are holding on to it."

A delay of two to three months is minor and tolerable, he said.

Metro.jpgChief Minister Sidaramaiah had given a revised deadline from March to June 2016 when Metro services were launched betwen Mysore Road and Magadi Road two months ago.

Conceding that Namma Metro has failed to meet its deadlines, Kharola said 97 per cent of Phase I was done. "Building a Metro is a lifetime thing. We are working in a living city and do not have any past experience to back us. It is very challenging and we are not looking for excuses to justify the delay," he said.

Reach 4 (between National College to RV College) and 4A (between RV Road and Puttenahalli) is the real challenge, in his view.

"The tunnel boring machine working below Chikpet is just 150 metres from Majestic. However, water seepage, building cracks and fractured rocks are posing big challenges," he said.

A geological expert has said the rocks are of metamorphised granite. He described the North-South corridor as "the worst possible position."

"The machine has to break through hard granite and if it does, the soil above gets weak and sinks. We advance only one metre a day instead of the ten that can be covered easily," he said.

About 1,500 have been working on the Kempegowda Interchange station for two years. The station is 80 feet, or roughly seven storeys, deep. It is equipped with 20 escalators, and will have 35 after operations commence, and 45 staircases.

"When completed fully, 2,000 passengers can come by a train with six cars. If we assume two trains running on the East-West and North-South corridors, there will be 8,000 passengers at any given time at the station. We have created platforms that can hold 20,000," he explained.

What is Phase I?

  • It comprises two corridors: East-West running to 18.1 kms (purple line) and North-South running to 24.2 km (green line).
  • The purple line connects Baiyappanahalli and Mysore Road while the green connects Nagasandra and Puttenahalli.
  • The two intersect at Kempegowda station, a two-level interchange station.
  • Phase I  involves 33.48 km of elevated tracks and 8.82 km of an underground section.

Metro Pays Rs1 Crore in Interest Alone Every Day

The revenue generated by the Metro is about Rs 10 lakh a day, while it pays anywhere between Rs 1 crore and Rs 2 crore in interest alone.

Responding to a query after his presentation at FKCCI on Tuesday, Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola said the Metro had taken a long-term loan of Rs 6,500 crore to fund the Rs 13,845 crore Phase I. The rest came from the state and Central governments.

"The loan has been taken from various funding agencies like Jaica (Rs 3,000 crore), Hudco (Rs 600 crore) and a French lending agency, while Rs 300 crore has been raised by selling bonds," he said.

About 10 per cent of the Rs 6,500 crore is paid as interest every year. FKCCI members broke it down to roughly Rs 2 crore a day.

Kharola refuted it, saying, "It is not that much but definitely more than Rs 1 crore a day."

As for Phase II, which will cost Rs 26,405 crore, Kharola said the Metro was looking for a loan of Rs 12,000 crore.

"We have inked an agreement with France for Rs 2,000 crore and plan to approach the German bank KFW later," he said.

The Metro is also exploring the possibility of big domestic loans. The risk is high with foreign banks as the exchange rate fluctuates, Kharola said.

"Interest rates have come down in Indian banks now compared to what they were when we started Phase I. The borrowing rate from SBI has gone down from 10.1  to 9.3 per cent," he said.

Standalone Phase II

Phase II will be completed fast as it is made up of standalone lines.

It has no underground corridor intersection, and the experience of building Phase I will help.

Kharola said Rs 5,000 crore had been spent towards land acquisition for Phase II, as compared to Rs 2,500 crore for Phase I.

The design of Reach I extension (Baiyappanahalli to ITPL-Whitefield) has been handed over to the Indian Institute of Science. For Reach II (Mysore Road to Pattanagere), Rs 107 crore has been spent to acquire 57 properties.

"Permission was required from the National Highway authorities for the elevated stretch from Silk Board to Bommasandra (Reach 3) and we have obtained it," he said. For Reach 4 extension, land has been acquired and compensation is being paid. Tenders have been floated for work to begin from Puttennahalli to Anjanapura Cross.

"Within three years, you might even see the first train being run to Kengeri," he said. Kengeri is part of Reach 2 extension from Mysuru Road.

upcoming plans

Namma Metro boss discusses about the plans that they have lined up which includes a multiplex at Mysuru road station

Cabs at the Station

Namma Metro is in talks with taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber to provide last mile connectivity to passengers. "Since the arrival of a Metro train can be predicted to the minute, taxis can be made available for passengers," Kharola said. Metro is also discussing schedules with BMTC. "Our fares are on par with theirs. So, it does not make sense for both of us to run along the same stretch. BMTC needs to supplement the Metro system," he said.

Airport Connectivity

Phase III will connect the Kempegowda International Airport to the city, and the Metro is considering four or five routes, including through Yelahanka and Hessarghatta. "We will take a decision on it soon," Kharola said.

5 Lakh Passengers A Day

Kharola estimated that five lakh commuters will travel by the Metro every day when Phase I is fully ready.  "The thumb rule is that a Metro is said to have good occupancy with 10,000 passengers for each kilometre. So, for 42 km of Phase I, Namma Metro will be considered good if we have 4.2 lakh passengers," he said.

Multiplex at Mysuru Road station

The Mysuru Road station will have a multiplex, among other attractions, Kharola said.  He was responding to a query from a participant who wanted to know about the commercial plans of the Metro.  Kharola said the Metro was not going ahead full steam with the setting up of shops at its stations. "We need to sign a five-year-lease and the payment is decided by them based on our traffic. Once the full phase is commissioned, our traffic will be high. So, we would like to get into such agreements after Phase I is ready," Kharola said.

Whitefield Extension

Bowing to a demand from Prakash Mandoth, Chairman, Tourism Committee, FKCCI, Kharola said the Metro network in Phase II would be extended a bit to touch the Whitefield railway station.  "According to the present plan, the Metro stop at Whitefield would be a little over 200 metres away from the existing Whitefield railway station. If the two can be linked as is done at Yesvantpur, where the Metro and railway station are opposite each other, it will benefit passengers in a big way," Kharola said.

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