Monorail, mooted for Kerala’s capital city, is expected to reduce dependence on personalised modes of transport and to take 40% of the present vehicular traffic off the road
Thiruvananthapuram City is continuously growing due to its ever increasing commercial activities. Its new development areas are being formed in its outskirts along NH-47. The City is also growing as an important IT destination in India. Its Technopark has around 200 companies that employ over 30,000 professionals. This is the first CMMI Level 4 assessed Technology Park which spreads over 330 acres, and boasts of about 4,000,000 sq ft (370,000 m2) of built-up space. About 450 acres of land is being developed in Pallippuram, five km north of the main campus, as Techno-City as a part of the Phase IV expansion of the Technopark. These factors, coupled with the inadequate mass transportation system, have caused a drastic reduction in mobility levels. At present, 7,500 people travel in an hour in one direction in the city, and this is likely to go up to 15,000 in the next 10 years. Since bus based public transport system cannot cater to the increasing travel demand beyond a particular level, necessary steps have been initiated by the Government of Kerala to develop proper mass transportation facilities. Monorail is one of them.
The monorail can carry up to 20,000 people in an hour in one direction during peak hours, and has been found to be the best mode of transport for a medium-sized city like Thiruvananthapuram. The Government has entrusted National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) with the responsibility of preparing a feasibility report for the Monorail System in Thiruvananthapuram district with an overall objective of improving mobility, reducing congestion and enhancing traffic safety. To begin with, the proposal will be for the arterial corridor connecting Technocity near Pallipuram via Kazhakoottam, Ulloor, MG Road, Karamana, Pappanamcode and Balaramapuram, to Neyyattinkara covering a total distance of 41.8km.
The study area includes all Corporation wards, adjoining Panchayaths and Neyyattinkara Municipality. Thiruvananthapuram being located in the southern most part of the State, the major transport corridors radiate towards the north and north-east of the City. According to Census of 2011, the Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation has an area of 214.86km² and a population of 9,57,730 inhabitants.
Moreover, being totally grade-separated, monorails are one of the safest forms of transport. Construction risks are less with Monorail system due to the ease of above-ground construction. The straddle monorail is by far the most common monorail type that has been put into operation. It is visually the most pleasing type and fits into urban environments better with minor visual blockage than suspended monorails which normally need to be taller to allow for the necessary vehicular clearance under the train.
The proposed monorail alignment starts from Technocity (Pallipuram), 400m away from Mangalapuram Junction and passes along National Highway-47 towards Neyyattinkara. While 35 stations with multi-storeyed parking are proposed along the monorail alignment, a depot is proposed at Pallipuram near CRPF camp.
The proposed alignment route is as follows:
- Pallipuram (Technocity) – Kazhakoottam – Ulloor- Kesavadasapuram – Pattom – LMS – Palayam – Statue – Overbridge – Thampanoor – Killipalam – Karamana – Pappanamcode – Balaramapuram – Neyyattinkara.
The Monorail system is proposed to be implemented in two phases.
- PHASE I – Route:
Pallipuram (Technocity) to Thampanoor
No. of stations: 19
Start of Construction: 2013
Expected commissioning of Monorail: January 2016
- PHASE II -Route: Thampanoor to Neyyattinkara
No. of stations: 16
Start of Construction: 2015
Expected commissioning of Monorail: January 2018
Land acquisition for the monorail system is very minimum (only in stations and depots) and is around
र 479cr including the land value, compensation of buildings and depot land (30 acres). For the full length of the monorail corridor, alignment formation is estimated to cost र 1168cr. Based on the Mumbai monorail project, each station building is estimated to cost र 8.26cr at 2012 prices. For the 35 stations, the cost is estimated at र 289cr. With all the components put together, the total cost of the project is estimated at र 5100cr, with र 2775cr to be spent in Phase I and र 2324 cr to be spent in Phase II. The cost works out to र 125cr per km for Phase I and र 118.7cr per km for Phase II.
The Financial Internal Rate of Return (FIRR) has been computed by using the revenue and cost streams with a conservative and optimum fare structure. The financial analysis shows that FIRR varies from 7% to 13% depending on the various scenarios adopted for the feasibility study.
The economic evaluation of the project corridor has been carried out by applying the Social Cost-Benefit Analysis Technique. The technique uses the incremental costs and benefits under the ‘with’ and ‘without’ project scenarios. The Economic Internal Rate of Return (EIRR) for the project computed using Discounted Cash Flow technique showed the value at 12.6%.
The State Government has appointed Kerala Transport Development Finance Corporation (KTDFC) as the nodal agency for the project and the Ministry of Transportation will be responsible for the implementation. A number of private agencies have already approached the Government expressing interest in the project. NATPAC, along with KTDFC, will invite tenders for the project and jointly form a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) company where NATPAC’s role will be of giving technical assistance to the project.