While high-cost metro services are being planned and rolled out across the country with state governments wanting to replicate the Delhi Metro success, these systems could end up being white elephants, if the host city does not give enough ridership. Experts believe LRTS or the Light Rail Transit System are, therefore, best suited for Tier-II and Tier-III cities which have low population.
Cities like Dehradun, Kozhikode and Trivandrum have been found to be feasible for such systems that can be put up at 40 per cent of the cost incurred for building a metro system. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) was engaged by the state government of Uttarakhand to prepare a detailed project report for a metro project in Dehradun. The corporation, instead, suggested LRTS that would cost less and could be later converted to full metro, if the ridership increases. The peak hour peak direction traffic for the city is not more than 12,000 passengers, and, therefore, it was felt LRTS was better.
"Most of our cities require some sort of public transport system, but lack of space is an issue plaguing every city in the country and thus a bus-based solution is not possible,” Mangu Singh, managing director, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, told Business Standard
DMRC has suggested LRTS for these cities but the state governments a few months ago. LRTS is an improved tram-way system. At present, trams cannot run on roads due to congestion, therefore, an elevated platform is needed to run the light rail. LRTS does requires only basic stations which are not as large as metro stations.
The LRT system costs about Rs 1.4-1.5 billion as compared to the Rs 3-4 billion for building a metro system. It does not require very sophisticated signalling system and thus this kind of system, which can be later upgraded to a metro system, is being looked into by many cities.
“Normally, the cost of laying the track won’t be very different atvarious loads unless we bring the LRT at grade. Life of rail coachesis normally 30 years so raising capacity has to be in a phased manner in order to get the best return on investment,” said Abhaya Agarwal partner and PPP leader, EY India.
Agarwal, however, said LRTS has not been very popular mode of transport because of "not worthwhile" economic saving over the asset life. Since the rolling stock comprises 15 to 20 per cent and 80 per cent is infrastructure, the overall savings will not be normally more than 10-15% as compared with a metro rail.
Andhra Pradesh is likely to adopt LRTS as opposed to medium metro system suggested by the DMRC. German development bank KfW has been tasked with the preparation of a detailed project report (DPR) for the 46-km proposed LRTS.
Earlier, DMRC was engaged by the Amaravati Metro Rail Corporation (AMRC) – a special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up by the state government for the project — for doing detailed project report.