Mumbai Monorail Phase-II May Be Operational Soon
After missing many deadlines, Phase-II of the Mumbai Monorail will be operational soon. The route, which was slated to get operational in December 2017, got delayed due to shortcomings found in the safety parameters. While Phase-I operations are still suspended after the fire broke in two coaches of the Monorail rake in November last, the state government has shelved all Monorail projects that were proposed in the metropolitan region (MMR) due to financial reasons.
Monorail Phase-II plan
The Phase-I runs between Chembur and Wadala while in Phase-II, the route has been extended to Jacob Circle. The line passes through the congested residential and commercial hubs of Dadar and Parel and is expected to decongest local railway network that runs on the similar route.
Wadala- GTB Nagar- Antop Hill- Acharya Atre Nagar- Wadala Bridge- Dadar East- Naigaon- Ambedkar Nagar- Mint Colony- Lower Parel- Chinchpokli- Jacob Circle are the stations along Phase II route.
While the first phase of the monorail was built at a cost of Rs 1,100 crore, the second phase cost has been escalated to Rs 2,460 crore. The project has been delayed by 7 years. The initial deadline for the corridor was May 2011.
Since the launch of Chembur-Wadala monorail route in 2014, the transport infrastructure has been facing a slew of problems that includes delays, low ridership, mishaps, maintenance cost and price escalation.
The construction for Mumbai Monorail Phase 1 began in February 2009 but got operational in February 2014 after a delay of three years, missing around 6 deadlines. Similarly, Phase II was scheduled for May 2011 but is yet to get operational. The latest deadline has been set for May 2018 which might get extended further.
The average ridership for Phase-I was 18,000 which is much below the expectations of MMRDA. Now with Phase-II, officials are hoping the ridership to touch 1 lakh-mark to make the project financially viable. The monorail has been facing losses of Rs 3 lakh daily due to low ridership. The fire accident has resulted in a loss of Rs 33 crore to the MMRDA.
The MMRDA is currently struggling to find a new contractor for operations and maintenance of the entire corridor. The authority has re-invited tenders four times in the past 12 months but received just two bids in March. While the lowest bidder – ILFS – has quoted 100 per cent above MMRDA’s estimates, Reliance Infrastructure – has quoted a whopping 540 per cent above estimates. When MMRDA floated the bids for them in March, it had estimated Rs 1,000 crore for operations and maintenance of the entire corridor for a period of 10 years. To beat the losses, the authority has even approved a fare hike once Phase II is operational, with ticket prices ranging from Rs 10- 40, instead of Rs 5-20.
After the fire incident in November last year, the MMRDA appointed an independent expert committee to investigate the incident that stated that the safety manual followed by the management is inadequate in case of a fire. Therefore, the commissioner of railway safety suggested few measures that were to be implemented along the entire route. This includes installing temperature gauges and smoke detectors in coaches, installing CCTV cameras and evacuation chutes of mid-section guideways.