Vijayawada Metro: Andhra picks Light Metro Rail for Amaravati, puts project on fast track

By: | Published: January 15, 2018 2:10 AM

Not to be discouraged, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu has since found a way out of the quagmire, going for Light Metro Rail (LRT) in place of the medium metro prescribed by DMRC.

Having finally chosen Light Metro Rail for its new capital, the Andhra govt has put the project on fast track.

Putting behind it controversies and delays, as also questions over its viability, the Andhra Pradesh government has placed the Vijayawada Metro project on the fast track, in keeping with its ambition to build Amaravati, its new capital, as a smart city — Vijayawada and Amaravati, 12 km apart, are being developed as twin cities. With German development bank KfW being chosen for its preparation, a detailed project report (DPR) for the 46-km proposed Light Metro Rail (LRT) network is expected to be ready before the end of the year. For those who came in late, the project has been a bone of contention between the state government on the one hand and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and the Union government on the other. For the preparation of DPR, the Amaravati Metro Rail Corporation (AMRC) – a special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up by the state government for the project — had earlier signed an MoU with the DMRC. As per the DPR prepared by DMRC, the expected peak hour peak direction traffic (PHPDT) by 2021-22 was just 6,366 and the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) a low 3.47%, with the cost for a 26.03-km network estimated at Rs 6,769 crore. Differences with the DMRC over approvals from the central government which had raised questions over the project’s viability, given Vijayawada’s inadequate population, saw the MoU being cancelled.

Not to be discouraged, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu has since found a way out of the quagmire, going for Light Metro Rail (LRT) in place of the medium metro prescribed by DMRC. “KfW has come forward to prepare the DPR for the Light Metro along with an international consultancy firm under special funds provided by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development,” says N P Ramakrishna Reddy, MD, AMRC. Explaining the termination of the MoU, Reddy says, “while the DMRC felt that Light Metro is adequate for Vijayawada as per the PHPDT and projected figures, it recommended a Medium Metro given that the city is planned as a Capital city”. Guidelines fix the ridership benchmark for a Metro at 20,000 PHPDT and urban population at a minimum 2 million people. The population of Vijayawada city is 10.48 lakh within the municipal corporation limits and 14.91 lakh as an Urban Agglomeration, as per the 2011 census.

For issue of a request for proposal (RFP) document for the DPR, KfW and AMRC shortlisted five international consortia, including Canada-based CPCS Telcom Ltd, France-based EGIS Rail SA Ltd, Germany-based GRE Gauff Railway Engineering, Italy-based RNA Consulting Ltd and France-based Systra. “KfW evaluated the offers by four shortlisted international parties, finding that made by Systra, comprised of consultants from France, Germany and RITES from India, to be the best one. Perhaps in a week’s time, KfW will sign the agreement with Systra, ensuring the latter can start work in Vijayawada,” Reddy says.

“It will take about six months to complete the DPR. The German government is funding the cost of DPR, which is about Euro 10.98 lakh,” he adds. It is only after the DPR is ready that the state government will decide on the funding pattern to be employed for the project, as also the timelines for start of work and the project’s execution. Justifying the use of LRT for the Vijayawada Metro, AMRC has cited its greater flexibility than the medium metro system, making it more viable in a city with limited population. With lesser carrying capacity per coach and lower axle load, the LRT can be employed as a two-coach system – the number can go up to six in case of higher ridership – as against a minimum three coaches for medium metro. The smaller scale lessens project costs by 15-20% compared to medium metro.

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