labels: railways
SkyBus project runs into trouble, again news
James Paul
14 March 2002

The proposed Rs 1,000-crore SkyBus Metro Railway project for Kochi is running into rough weather, as a new controversy about the viability of the project has emerged. Delhi Metro Railway Corporation chairman and managing director E Sridharan has strongly opposed the project saying it is not viable. There is no such technology in the name of SkyBus that exists today.

Sky Bus Metro Railway is expected to be a permanent solution for the traffic problem of the city. Konkan Railway Corporation (KRC) had bagged the ambitious project. The project, expected to be implemented with private participation, will be completed within two years, say KRC sources.

The state government will have an 11-per cent stake in the project; the remaining amount will be raised from private investors. The Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) is expected to float a special vehicle company (SVC) for the project, in which KRC and private entrepreneurs will have stakes. The SVC is expected to fund the project.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed in this regard between KSIDC, KRC and the Banglore-based Marshels group recently to conduct a feasibility study. According to the MoU Rs 2 crore will have to be advanced by the Marshels group for conducting the study. The Marshels group will get a detailed project report prepared by KRC to establish the viability and practicability of building and operating the SkyBus Metro system in Kochi.

The feasibility study will cover 12 aspects, mainly geophysical survey, traffic study, financial viability of the project, environmental impact assessment, selection of roads and the possible revenue that could be generated. KRC has awarded the contract for the SkyBus projects in eight other cities, too.

The project will solve the increasing traffic congestion, inadequacy of roads, high vehicle population and the difficulty in proceeding with road development schemes, says KSIDC managing director Jiji Thomson. The detailed project report of the SkyBus scheme will be presented at the global non-resident Keralite meet scheduled for August in Kochi to attract investors.

Thomson say the possibility of implementing the project could only be confirmed after receiving the detailed project report and the feasibility study. Compared with the metro railway system, the SkyBus is less expensive and will cost only Rs 45 crore for 1 km. The metro railway, on the other hand, will cost Rs 150 crore for 1 km.

Though the feasibility study, spending Rs 75 lakh, was conducted for a mass-rapid transport system like a metro railway, the project is gathering dust because of the huge amount required for its implementation. The authorities are finding it difficult to start a metro railway system in New Delhi.

Moreover, the proposed project for the city has been impractical for a waterlogged place like Kochi. The SkyBus is an eco-friendly project and it will not require any acquisition of land. Sky shopping will also come to existence with the SkyBus. Shopping centres will be constructed along with the stops of the SkyBus.

The advocates of the metro railway system, in the meantime, have strongly criticised the government for opting for the SkyBus. Experts have cautioned that the implementation of the project may be unviable for the sole reason of non-availability of alternative service routes. It is argued that the SkyBus Metro is non-feasible, as it has not been actually tried out anywhere in the world. A project that involves huge investment and a time of two years for completion will make the life hell for city commuters.

The KRC offer is for an air-conditioned travel facility, travelling at more than 45 km per hour at the cost of Re 1 per km. The preliminary engineering-cum-feasibility report envisages implementation in two phases, covering a total distance of 21.6 kms.

While one route is via Edappally-Kacherippady-Shanmugham Road-Jos Junction-Vyttila, the other will start at Vyttila and converge at Edappally Bypass. The Sky Way, envisaged in the SkyBus system, consists of a concrete box structure carried over a series of piers at a height of 8 mtrs above the existing road level. The columns in one diameter are to be spaced 15 mtrs along the roadway.


  • Rail-guided bogie system commonly used in railways
  •  Liner induction motor technology or three-phase asynchronous AC electrical motive units
  • Lightweight coaches called Sky Buses suspended from bogies and travel below rail guides
  • Pre-fabricated construction technology without disturbing the existing traffic pattern
  • Information technology tools for economic communications and control.


  • Fast transportation: average speed of 45 km/hr at Rs1/ km
  • No land acquisition problems
  • No pollution
  • Fire protection: fastest evacuation in case of fire
  • No capsizing: in case of derailment, the coach keeps hanging
  • Deep penetration: follows existing busy roads, decongest them
  • Low operational cost: maintenance free tracks, no track circuits or signals, points and crossings to maintain
  • Capacity: can handle 15,000 to 50,000 persons per hour per direction.


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SkyBus project runs into trouble, again