Kolkata on a high: state seals Monorail MoU

Five years after it mooted the project for augmenting the city mass transit system, the state government today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the SREI Infrastructure Finance Ltd. to set up the country's first Light Rail Transit System (LRTS) that will link the southern suburbs and the northern suburbs.

The Rs 6,000-crore project will mean 1,040-km-long elevated tracks from Barrackpore to Joka, passing through the city's Central Business District. There will be 37 stations, including Joka, Behala, Esplanade, Panihati and Barrackpore, between the two terminal stations to be covered in 90 minutes. The trains will have four coaches and initially, around 1.2 lakh passengers will be ferried in the first phase of the project. Later, the capacity is to be raised to 4.8 lakh.

"In a city where only six per cent of the total area is used as road space, it is very difficult to create a fast moving transit on the surface level. We really need a mass transit system for having an adequate transport infrastructure in the city in future. The idea of having an elevated train (LRTS) and east-west metro corridor is basically to provide a mass transit in the city," Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said at the function where the MoU was signed.

According to Transport Secretary Sumantra Chowdhury, the project will be funded under the Jawarharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission and the Centre will chip in. "We expect that the project will be completed within 4-5 years. We will request SREI to submit the detailed project report by September 30 this year," Chowdhury said.

A consortium led by SREI, along with a Czech-based Amex International and the West Bengal Transport Infrastructure Development Ltd, will execute the two-phase project. A special purpose vehicle — Kolkata Mass Rapid Transit Private Ltd — had also been formed for the execution of the project. Consulting Engineering Services (CES) have been appointed as consultants for the project.

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