Dharamsala is going to be the first city in the world to have suspended “skyway” transport system, which will become operational within three years, Himachal Pradesh Urban Development Minister Sudhir Sharma said on Tuesday. Sharma said the feasibility of a high-speed “skyway link” between Dharamsala and Shimla was also being studied. The minister was speaking here on the eve of signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Himachal Pradesh government and Belarus-based company Skyway Technologies. Sharma said a 15-kilometre stretch had been identified in Dharamsala where work would start in the next two-to-three months. “The plan is to complete all formalities over the next couple of months and then immediately start work on the project,” he said.
Skyway is an elevated light-rail transportation system with suspended carbon-fibre cars moving at high speed on steel rails. Sharma added that skyway technology was ideal for the hilly terrain in Himachal Pradesh, where train, metro and monorail were not practical. He said a high-speed link to connect Dharamsala with the state capital Shimla would also be built. “The suspended cars on the skyway can run at a speed from 50 to 500 kilometres per hour. Since not much land is required, acquisition won’t be a problem,” he said. The minister added that the system would be silent, safe and earthquake-resistant, as the “area comes under the seismic zone”.
“The system can be used for passenger as well as freight traffic. So, it would help in reducing congestion and pollution as well as offering efficient and cheap mode of transport,” he said. While the suspended cars can be customised in size for carrying two to 34 passengers at a time, Sharma said six-person driver-less cars would be introduced in Dharamsala with a capacity of carrying up to 20,000 passengers per day. “We have also talked to Skytech Technologies to set up a manufacturing plant in India, which would lead to some cost-cutting as well.” Sharma said the project would cost Rs 38 crore per kilometre, which he said was cheaper than other alternatives like metro and monorail.
Skyway Technologies creator Anatoly Yunitskiy said the technology was not a fantasy but it already existed. “What we want to do in Dharamsala has already been implemented and verified,” he said, referring to the demonstration unit set up in Belarus. He said while the system could attain speeds up to 500 kilometres per hour, it would be 50-60 kilometres per hour in Dharamsala, “which is quite good for a city”. “Higher speeds would be possible for Dharamsala-Shimla link.”