Will Nagpur Metro Meet Jaipur’s Fate?

Will Nagpur Metro Meet Jaipur’s Fate?

The Jaipur Metro, which was launched with great fanfare in June 2015, seems to have turned into a white elephant with the operational losses as high as Rs 7.5 lakh per day. Recovering the project cost is at present a distant dream.

The Metro is surviving on the cesses levied by the Rajasthan government on registration of new passenger vehicles and on property deals.

In terms of ridership, the average of the last 25 months is just 22,000 per day against an estimate of 1.25 lakh. The figure has now come down to 19,000.

Jaipur Metro was the first to be launched in a tier-2 city of the country. Its performance raises a question whether Nagpur Metro will meet the same fate. Jaipur’s population, according to the 2011 census, was 30.5 lakh against 26.5 lakh of Nagpur. Mahametro’s managing director Brijesh Dixit is, however, confident that his project will be successful.

Jaipur Metro seems to have been launched in a hurry. The length of the corridor at present is only 9.4km with nine stations. It is being extended another 2.6km to take the length to 12km. The phase-II, which is 24km-long and will cost Rs10,000 crore, is another five years away.

At present, the Metro does not connect the airport and the interstate bus terminal. Two main industrial areas of the city are also not connected. There is, however, a Metro station near the main railway station.

Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation Limited (JMRCL), the project agency, did not bother to go for property development before the project became operational. It will take another year before 8,000 sq m commercial space in the Metro stations will be leased out. The development of 19-hectare open land in the city given to JMRCL is further ahead. The Rajasthan government has not gone for transit oriented development (TOD) of Jaipur for the Metro.

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JMRCL director (operations) Ashwini Saxena admitted that the Metro was in a bad shape but expressed confidence that ridership would double once the extension of the present corridor is complete. “The extension will cover the main commercial district of the city,” he told mediapersons from Nagpur.

Saxena further said that at present, the Metro did not cover the entire city and this would be achieved only when phase-II is completed.

The JMRCL official is not downcast due to low ridership of the Metro. “When the first stretch of 8km was started by Delhi Metro, its ridership was just 25,000. The figure for Bengaluru and Chennai Metros was lower than Jaipur. Metro ridership only increases when large parts of the city are covered,” he said.

 Dixit concurs with Saxena on this point. “Nagpur’s corridor length is 39km against 9.4km of Jaipur. If we consider the feeder service, large parts of the city will be covered. The Metro will connect the airport, city bus stand and the two main railway stations with rest of the city. Feeder service will connect the Ganeshpeth bus terminal. Our project will provide major connectivity to industrial areas, health hubs and most educational institutes. This will ensure sufficient ridership. When phase-II is completed, ridership will increase further,” he told TOI.
The MD further said that JMRCL had not provided enough parking space at the Metro stations, which Mahametro would. “We will introduce a common mobility card right from the beginning. Jaipur Metro is completely dependent on grid power while 65% of our power will come from solar, which is cheaper,” he added.

Dixit also said that JMRCL had delayed execution of phase-II. “We are already preparing the detailed project report (DPR) of our second phase,” he added.

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