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
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
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.
bogie system commonly used in railways
induction motor technology or three-phase asynchronous
AC electrical motive units
coaches called Sky Buses suspended from bogies and travel
below rail guides
construction technology without disturbing the existing
technology tools for economic communications and control.
transportation: average speed of 45 km/hr at Rs1/ km
land acquisition problems
protection: fastest evacuation in case of fire
capsizing: in case of derailment, the coach keeps hanging
penetration: follows existing busy roads, decongest
operational cost: maintenance free tracks, no track
circuits or signals, points and crossings to maintain
can handle 15,000 to 50,000 persons per hour per direction.