Monorail services to resume from Sep 1: MMRDA to pay double to run it, cost for commuters unchanged

Monorail services to resume from Sep 1: MMRDA to pay double to run it, price for commuters unchanged
MMRDA will have to pay Rs 18,000 per trip against the earlier Rs 4,600 (Picture Courtesy: Rail Analysis India)

Monorail services between Wadala-Chembur are set to resume from September 1, almost nine months after operations were halted following a massive fire.

Monorail services were stopped in November last year after two coaches of a rake were gutted.

Unfortunately, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which was already incurring a daily loss of Rs 8.5 lakh operate the service, will now have to shell out more money to continue running it.

MMRDA to pay more per-trip from September 1

The monorail operator – a consortium of Larsen & Toubro and Malaysia’s Scomi Engineering (LTSE) – has asked for an increase in the cost-per-trip from the earlier Rs 4,600 to Rs 18,000.

In the first phase of the project, a trip constitutes a single 8.9 km journey from Chembur to Wadala and vice versa. Once phase two is operational, the 11 km journey from Wadala to Jacob Circle or vice versa will count as another single trip.

MMRDA had appointed a single-member committee, under former general manager of Central Railway and Railway Board Member Subodh Jain, to fix the cost per trip.

While Jain rejected LTSE’s quotation of Rs 18,000, he pegged the cost of a single trip for both phases as Rs 10,600 and recommended it to be in force for a maximum of three years. The reworked cost has been sent to LTSE for consideration.

Since MMRDA plans to continue with LTSE till February, it will have pay more than double to keep running the service. On their part, LTSE is expected to ensure all ten trains are operational.

Despite the increase in per-trip cost, the price for commuters will remain the same for the time being, i.e. Rs 5 to 11.

Better monitoring

MMRDA will be installing high-definition CCTV cameras at both ends of every platform to allow for better monitoring.

The cameras send a live feed to the control room, where a team will dedicatedly monitor the situation and promptly escalate issues like fire or any other mishaps.

The smoke detectors, some of which were not functional during last year’s fire incident, have also been repaired.

Phase 2

While the first phase of the project was made operational in 2014, the second phase of the project, which will extend the service from Wadala to Jacob Circle, is expected to be ready by 2019.

Both phases, incidentally, have been marred by delays and exaggerated costs. The first phase was expected to be ready by 2011 but got delayed by almost three years and cost approximately Rs 3,000 crore to build and maintain.

The second phase, meanwhile, was expected to be operational by December 2016, but has missed several deadlines since then.

The monorail’s first phase was also plagued with low ridership since the start, managing to average around 17,000 daily commuters against its total carrying capacity of 2 lakh.

Experts attributed the low usage to lack of connectivity to commercial/residential hubs, many of which will be covered in the second phase. Apart from ridership, the monorail also faced several disruptions and maintenance issues.

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