The Chennai Metro project has been in the news for the right reasons of late. Last week saw a 9-km stretch on Corridor I being thrown open to passenger traffic, making it the second stretch of the Phase-1 project to be made operational. And in June, the Union Cabinet approved the extension of Corridor I from Washermenpet to Wimco Nagar in North Chennai, at an estimated cost of R3,770 crore.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Little Mount-Chennai Airport section last Wednesday, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu said the Centre had released about R10,000 crore for the Chennai Metro Phase I project, hoping that the work would be expedited for the benefit of Chennai’s residents. The new link connects the Chennai International Airport to important hubs like the Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT).
The Phase I Extension project is scheduled to be complete by March 2018. It will help a large number of people, predominantly industrial workers, commute to the central business district of the city for work. “With the Phase I Extension project, we will be able to reach the distant parts of the city, thereby providing better connectivity to Chennai’s commuters,” says Pankaj Kumar Bansal, MD, Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL), a 50:50 joint venture between the Union and state governments. Of the total cost of R3,770 crore, the Union government will provide R713 crore and the government of Tamil Nadu R916 crore. The balance amount would be raised through a loan.
Speaking to FE, a senior CMRL official says a team from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) would be in Chennai next month to discuss loan requirements for the Extension project. “We are seeking close to R2,100 crore,” he says. Once the funding is secured, the tender process can begin for construction activities. According to the official, tunneling work has already commenced on the stretch, with other work expected to begin in three months’ time.
In June last year, CMRL had thrown open to passenger traffic a 10.15-km elevated stretch between Koyambedu and Alandur on Corridor II. This link has witnessed decent ridership.
“Around 10,000 to 12,000 commuters are using the service daily; once Phase I is complete, we expect to carry 2.4 lakh passengers every day,” says the official. Post Corridor I’s extension, Phase I of the Metro project will cover a total length of 54.1 km.
Substantial progress has been made so far in the project’s implementation. “We hope to complete Phase I in another one and a half years’ time. By December 2017 we will be able to integrate all the multi-modal transport systems with the metro network,” says Bansal. Passenger services on the first underground stretch will commence by the end of this year.
Work on the Metro project began in 2009 and Phase I was originally estimated to cost R14,600 crore, a figure that has shot up to R19,000 crore due to price escalations and delays of over a year. As part of Phase II, there are plans to build three new corridors and an orbital corridor at an estimated cost of R44,000 crore, with a detailed feasibility report (DFR) being prepared for the purpose.
Phase I has witnessed delays on account of contractors dragging their feet on execution and finally exiting the project. To prevent its recurrence, CMRL is planning to shift from the design and build model to build only for the Extension project. “By doing so we would get work done from contractors as per our designs; this would pave the way for faster execution,” the official says.
Making a presentation at an event, Bansal said the Chennai Metro would be the first one in the country to integrate all transportation systems, including buses, suburban trains and Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS). Vehicle parking spaces and pedestrian walkways are also being provided for and links constructed to bus stands. Further, there are plans to construct a Chennai Central Square near the busy Chennai Central station.