With trial runs starting ahead of schedule on the priority stretch of Kanpur Metro, the city's 4-mn residents can hope to avail commercial services by the end of this year.
Come January 2022, the historic city of Kanpur, also known as the Manchester of the East, will turn into a ‘Metro’ city. With the trial run of the 9-km-long priority section (IIT-Kanpur to Motijheel) of Corridor-I of the ambitious Kanpur Metro project being flagged off by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday, commercial operations on the stretch are expected to start by the end of December.
In the interim period of about six weeks, the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO) will be conducting trials that include tests regarding the suspension of the train, vibrations in the train body during operation, brakes and speed. Once the RDSO trials are completed, the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety (CMRS) will need to grant his clearance before passenger services can be launched.
In what sets a good precedent given the challenges posed by Covid-19, the Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation (UPMRC), which began work on the priority corridor on November 15, 2019, has completed it in less than two years’ time. Talking about the project, Kumar Keshav, the managing director of UPMRC, says the trial runs have started five days ahead of schedule. “Completing the project within the scheduled time-frame has indeed been a challenge, especially as we lost four months on account of Covid-19, when no work was done practically. But once the government eased restrictions, we started work immediately, following all Covid-related protocol, and gained momentum over time”.
Besides trials on the priority section, work has started on the remaining portion of Corridor-I (Chunniganj to Nayaganj). The remaining stretch includes an underground portion of 7.5 km, which will have 7 stations, and a 6.5-km section with 5 elevated stations. Corridor 1 is
23 km in length.
“Construction of the remaining portion of Corridor-I as well as the 8-km-long Corridor 2 from Chandrashekhar Azad Agriculture University to Barra will take three years. The target is to complete the entire 32.4-km project by December 2024. And for that the tenders for both the corridors are already in place,” says Keshav.
The estimated cost of the entire project is `11,076.48 crore, out of which the cost of the priority section has been Rs 2,100 crore. While the European Investment Bank (EIB) has sanctioned a loan of Rs 5,551.99 cr (Euro 650 million), the remaining cost is being shared by the Union and the state governments.
The city of Kanpur has been in dire need of a modern and efficient public transport system. With a population of over 40 lakh and 11.4 lakh registered vehicles in 2017, the city’s residents have had to put up with traffic congestion, inadequate parking spaces and rising pollution levels. According to the detailed project report (DPR) for the Metro project, the city’s population is expected to rise from 41.2 lakh in 2017 to 46.3 lakh in 2021, 56.9 lakh in 2031 and 65.8 lakh in 2041. Against this backdrop, the total daily ridership in the year 2024, when both the corridors of the project are proposed to be fully operational, is estimated at 9.4 lakh, going up to 10.8 lakh in 2031 and 13.5 lakh passengers in 2041.
With Metro services starting in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh would become the only state in the country to have such a facility in five of its districts. Metro services are currently operational in Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, and Lucknow.