Vijayawada: Nearly 21 months after obtaining an in-principle Central clearance for the Vijayawada metro rail, the State government has started examining an electric metro busway and a hybrid model comprising part rail and bus modes as potential alternatives to the rail-based commuter system apparently due to the inordinate delay in taking the metro railway beyond the conceptual stage.
Officials and the Amaravati Metro Rail Corporation Limited (AMRCL), who have already studied some successful electric bus rapid transit systems abroad, are waiting for an audience with Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu to discuss the advantages of the e-metro busway and the other models, after which he is expected to share his views with E. Sreedharan, advisor for the Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam railway projects.
The objections raised by the NITI Aayog on the population, peak passengers-per-hour-per-direction (PPHPD) and Financial Internal Rate of Return (FIRR) criteria and the delay on the part of the Public Investment Board (Ministry of Finance) in giving its nod to the funding offers by the French government’s public financial institution AFD and the German development bank KfW are the stumbling blocks, according to AMRCL Managing Director N.P. Ramakrishna Reddy.
Mr. Reddy told that the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, which was appointed the consultant for Vijayawada, submitted the Detailed Project Report (DPR) in June 2015 but there had since been no significant progress except in inviting tenders, whose two-time cancellation due to quoting of excess amounts by prospective bidders came as a temporary setback.
Land acquisition has been another problem with farmers refusing to give their holdings for the construction of the coach depot at Nidamanur in about 60 acres.
On the project criteria, Mr. Reddy said as per the guidelines laid down under the National Urban Transport Policy, a metro railway ought to have a population of at least 20 lakh and the PPHPD should be 20,000 and FIRR more than 8% but the Vijayawada metro comes nowhere near those figures, having a population of about 11 lakh as per the 2011 Census and the PPHPD and FIRR hovering around 6,000 and 3.5%. The PPHPD might at best reach 16,000 in both the corridors by 2050. Unless these things are sorted out, the project will not make any movement.
“The Chief Minister is pursuing the matter with the Centre. Meanwhile, he has asked us to work out alternatives. We have studied the electric bus ways in China and some other countries. They are cost-effective and will be sufficient to meet our transportation requirements,” Mr. Reddy observed.