There has been poor investment in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region’s (MMR) public transport and highway systems over the past 2-3 decades, which is why huge amounts of infrastructural development will be initially needed before an ambitious USD 50bn plan to inter-link the entire region is completed.
The consultants appointed by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), has reported that there is an inherent capacity deficiency in the existing public transport and highway systems. This is largely a reflection of the under-investment in transport projects over the last 25 years.
The result is that the consultants have proposed that most of the projects they have recommended in the Comprehensive Transportation Study (CTS) should be completed in the first phase itself. The overall plan is proposed to be completed in three phases—by 2016, 2021 and 2031.
While rolling stock (including the engines and bogies) can be incrementally increased, fixed stock (like bridges, tunnels and so on) must be built to accommodate long-term travel demands.
Therefore, it is estimated that rolling stock amounts to 20% of a project’s overall costs, while the 80% is a pre-investment in fixed stock for future needs. The cost of providing fixed rail transport is heavily weighted to civil and other unavoidable costs—such as property acquisitions, power transmission, stations, signaling systems.
A whopping USD 30bn of the estimated project costs would be spent by 2016—the first phase itself—if the consultants recommendations are followed. This means that more than half the amount would be spent within the next eight years itself, while the ambitious plan is expected to be completed by 2031.
Interestingly, while it has been noted that most people in the region—Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan and Pen-Raigad—use buses and trains, the biggest expense is recommended for an entirely new mode of public transport, the proposed Metro. More than half the project costs, USD 25bn, has been recommended for extending the Metro to cover the entire region.