After cost overruns and multiple delays spanning four and a half years, the much-awaited Bangalore metro rail service became a reality on Thursday. Union minister for urban development Kamal Nath flagged off the debut trip of the service, named Namma Metro, amid much fanfare.
The inaugural run from MG Road in downtown Bangalore covered 6.7 km till Baiyappanahalli — the terminus of Reach-1 of the 18.1-km east-west corridor.
Not long ago, the Namma Metro had come in for criticism from different quarters, including Delhi Metro Railway Corporation chief E Sreedharan, who had pegged its delay-induced daily losses at Rs 50 lakh. Though civil works began in April 2007 after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid the foundation stone on June 24, 2006, the 6.7-km stretch opened on Thursday was completed only in March this year, 24 months behind schedule. The safety clearance certificate from the commissioner of railway safety came even later — on September 25.
Bangalore Metro Rail
|* The project was conceived 24 years ago, but it was cleared in 2005|
|* The civil construction started in April 2007|
|* The Reach-1, 6.7 km, from Baiyappanahalli to MG Road opened for public use on October 20; entire project scheduled to be completed by December 2013|
The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) has so far invested about Rs 4,000 crore in the project, of the total project cost of Rs 11,609 crore. Being built on the public-private partnership model, with the state and central governments holding 15 per cent equity each (Rs 1,224 crore). The project has 25 per cent (Rs 2,040 crore) debt component from Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Initially, the corporation will operate 182 trips per day at a frequency of 10-15 minutes to carry about 1,000 commuters per trip from 6 am to 10 pm daily, with fares ranging from Rs 10-15. The number of coaches for each train would be doubled to six, BMRCL managing director N Sivasailam said.
“That will happen once the service picks up momentum and as more people prefer taking the metro to save time and commute safely in air-conditioned comfort,” he said. “We expect about 25,000 people to use the metro in Reach-1.”