India’s first underwater metro nears completion

Bloomberg | Updated on January 28, 2020 Published on January 28, 2020

The cost of this project has doubled due to delay

Kolkata Metro Rail Corp. expects to complete its East-West project, which runs partly under the city’s iconic Hooghly river, by March 2022 after a delay of several years doubled costs.

The authority is awaiting 20 billion rupees ($280 million) over the next two years from the Railway Board, said Manas Sarkar, Managing Director at KMRC. A soft loan of 41.6 billion rupees from Japan International Cooperation Agency helps fund 48.5 per cent of the project.

India’s oldest metro, which started in 1984 with a North-South service, was due to expand by 2014 but faced problems including squatters on the planned route. These issues have contributed to the total project cost rising to about 86 billion rupees for around 17 kilometers from 49 billion rupees for 14 km.

“About 40 per cent of total transport demand will be tackled by these two metro services,” Sarkar said in an interview. “It will be a relief for environmental pollution and the city should be much more decongested.”

The new line is expected to carry about 900,000 people daily – roughly 20 per cent of the city’s population – and will take less than a minute to cross a 520-meter underwater tunnel. Depending on the time of day, it takes some 20 minutes to use the ferry and anywhere upward of an hour to cross the Howrah bridge. The North-South service carries 700,000 people each day.

KMRC will repay the JICA loan over 30 years after an initial six-year moratorium. The interest rate is between 1.2 per cent to 1.6 per cent. The East-West metro project is 74 per cent owned by India’s Railway Ministry and 26 per cent by the nation’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

“We don’t anticipate any further cost escalation now,” Sarkar said.

Published on January 28, 2020
  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu Business Line editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.