Kolkata to get country’s first elevated rail transit system

February 19th, 2009 - 12:25 am ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Feb 18 (IANS) Kolkata is slated to get the country’s first elevated light rail transit system with the West Bengal government Wednesday inking an agreement with non-banking finance company SREI Infrastructure Finance Limited for the Rs.60 billion project.
The 40-km Light Rail Transit System (LRTS) project, slated to be completed in four to five years, will be implemented by a SREI-led consortium that includes Czech-based Amex International as the technology partner and the state government’s West Bengal Transport Infrastructure Development Limited.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said: “Kolkata has very limited road space of six percent. The light rail trains will ply at an elevation (of 10-15 meters) and de-congest the roads.”

The fast-mode transport system, to be executed in two phases, will connect the northern suburbs with the southern fringes of the city. “It will comprise two corridors - Joka in the south to Esplanade in the central hub, and from Esplanade to Barrackpore in the city suburb in neighbouring north 24-Parganas district,” he said.

The entire route will have 37 stations and touch important city points like Behala, Khidirpore, Espalanade, Sealdah, Panihati and Barrackpore.

Kolkata has a six million population, while one million more pour into the city daily for work from the suburbs. “Kolkata was never a planned city. And it has developed gradually in an unplanned manner. Mere bus and trams can’t cope up with the situation,” the chief minister said.

The four-coach air-conditioned train will have a maximum speed of 40 km per hour and carry 120,00 passengers daily initially. Later on, it will bear 480,00 passengers daily. Each train has a capacity of accommodating 1,250 passengers, the chief minister said.

SREI will submit the detailed project report by September this year, so that the work can start in 2010.

SREI chairman-cum managing director Hemant Kanoria said the debt-equity ratio was likely to be 2:1, and the viability gap would be filled up with funds from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

A Special Purpose Vehicle Kolkata Mass Rapid Transit Company has been formed for the venture, which has Consulting Engineering Services (India) (CES) as project consultants.

“Amex has been chosen by CES, as it found the Czech company’s technology the latest and most suited to Kolkata,” the chief minister said.

Transport Minister Subhas Chakraborty said Kolkata will also get the East West Metro running from Howrah Maidan to Salt Lake sector-V, as well as a 50-km Ring Road of either four lanes or six lanes to make commuting easier.

The Metro Rail project will be completed by January 2014 and cost Rs 46.76 billion, while the ring road involves expenses of Rs.60 to Rs.90 billion.

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