India’s development and operations of existing metro rail systems provide valuable insights towards improving upcoming systems’ planning and investments. The Government of India (GoI) continued financial support over the past two decades, and the Metro Rail Policy formulated in 20171, led to the development of a wide range of rail-based mass transport systems across the country.
Today, India has metro rail, suburban rail and monorail. Amongst these, metro rail systems witnessed the fastest growth, from network length of 222km in three cities in 2011 to 697 Km in 13 cities by 2021. Approved additional metro rail network of 1,032km will expand the reach of metro systems up to 27 cities.
In addition, lighter urban rail systems such as Metrolite and Metro Neo are being conceptualised and developed by many small- and medium-sized cities. The approved metro rail projects have a projected expenditure of INR 3 trillion over the next five years, including equity investments by central and state governments and financing from other developmental and commercial financing entities.
Urban Rail Transit in India
Urban rail transit in India plays an important role in intracity transportation in the major cities which are highly populated. It consists of rapid transit, suburban rail, monorail and tram systems. According to a report published in 2021, a total of 2,636 million people travel annually in metro systems across India’s thirteen major cities, placing the country as one of the busiest urban rapid transit hub in the world in terms of ridership. The combined length of 731.25 kilometres of metro systems in India makes it the fifth longest in the world with in operation. The Ministry of Urban Development’s Urban Transport wing is the nodal division for coordination, appraisal and approval of Urban Transport matters including Metro Rail Projects at the central level. All the interventions in the urban transport by the Ministry of Urban Development are carried out as per the provisions of National Urban Transport Policy, 2006.
Light Rail Transit
Light rail transit (LRT) is a form of passenger urban rail transit characterized by a combination of tram and metro features. While its rolling stock is more similar to a traditional tram, it operates at a higher capacity and speed, and often on an exclusive right-of-way. In many cities, light rail transit systems more closely resemble, and are therefore indistinguishable from, traditional underground or at-grade subways and heavy-rail metros. There is no standard definition, but in the United States (where the terminology was devised in the 1970s from the engineering term light railway), light rail operates primarily along exclusive rights-of-way and uses either individual tramcars or multiple units coupled to form a train that is lower capacity and lower speed than a long heavy-rail passenger train or metro system. A few light rail networks tend to have characteristics closer to rapid transit or even commuter rail; some of these heavier rapid transit-like systems are referred to as light metros. Other light rail networks are tram-like and partially operate on streets.
The city of spices : Kozhikode
Kozhikode, also known in English as Calicut, is a city along the Malabar Coast in the state of Kerala in India. It has a corporation limit population of 609,224 and a metropolitan population of more than 2 million, making it the second largest metropolitan area in Kerala and the 19th largest in India. Kozhikode is classified as a Tier II city by the Government of India. It is the largest city in the region known as Malabar and was the capital of the British-era Malabar district. In antiquity and the medieval period, Kozhikode was dubbed the City of Spices for its role as the major trading point for Indian spices. It was the capital of an independent kingdom ruled by the Samoothiris (Zamorins). The port at Kozhikode acted as the gateway to medieval South Indian coast for the Chinese, the Arabs, the Portuguese, the Dutch and finally the British. According to data compiled by economics research firm Indicus Analytics in 2009 on residences, earnings and investments, Kozhikode was ranked the second best city in India to live in.
Kerala Rapid Transit Corporation Ltd.
Kerala State Metro Rail Corporation Limited, abbreviated to KSMRCL, is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed to implement light metro projects in Kerala. Kerala has light metro systems planned for the cities of Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram. The SPV is fully owned by the State Government and the Chief Minister is the Chairman of the company. The head office of KMRCL is at Thiruvananthapuram, with branches at Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram. Earlier it was Kerala Monorail Corporation Ltd. Since monorail was not financially viable, DMRC proposed light metro. The chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, is the chairman of the board and Public Works Minister P. A. Mohammed Riyas is vice chairman. The other board members are Ministers KN Balagopal, Antony Raju, P Rajeev, K Rajan as well as officials of Public Works and Transport departments.
Kozhikode Metro is a proposed Light Rapid Transit (LRT) system for the city of Kozhikode (Calicut), in India. In 2010, the State government explored the possibility of implementing a metro rail project for Kozhikode city and its suburbs. The proposal was to have a corridor connecting the meenchanda to the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital through the heart of the city. An inception report was submitted by a Bangalore-based consultant, Wilber Smith, on the detailed feasibility study on the prospect of implementing the Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) and Light Rail Transit System (LRTS) in the city. However, the project has been scrapped to be replaced by Kozhikode Monorail project.
The State Cabinet then decided to form a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to implement monorail projects in Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram, and administrative sanction was given in October 2012. The state government issued orders entrusting the Thiruvananthapuram Monorail project to the KMCL on 26 November 2012. The government had handed over the Kozhikode Monorail project to the KMCL prior to that. On 12 June 2013, the State Cabinet gave clearance for an agreement to be signed between KMCL and DMRC, that would make the latter the general consultant for the monorail projects in Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram. The DMRC shall receive a consultancy fee of 3.25% of the Rs. 55.81 billion (Rs. 35.90 billion for Thiruvananthapuram and Rs. 19.91 billion for Kozhikode). The agreement was signed on 19 June 2013. However, due to cost overrun and the cold response from the bidders the project was put on hold. Bombardier Transportation was the only bidder for the project. The project was later scrapped and Light metro was proposed.
The Union Urban Development Ministry decided to consider the proposal for a Metro in Kozhikode after the success of the Delhi Metro and signed up for drawing the detailed project report (DPR) of the Rs.27.71 billion Kozhikode metro transport project with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation as a feasibility study for the introduction of suburban services in Kozhikode city. The Ministry decided to bear 50% of the cost of the preparation of the DPR for the city that comes under the population cut-off bracket. The preliminary feasibility study had been carried out by the National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC) in association with the Kerala Road Fund Board in December 2008. Based on this feasibility report, the Board entrusted Wilber Smith to conduct the study in June 2009. Already, the NATPAC has submitted a metro rail project covering a total distance of 32.6 km from Karipur to the Calicut Medical College. The cost of the project was estimated at Rs. 27.71 billion and was expected be completed within five years. The monorail project which replaced the metro rail project was estimated to cost Rs 1,991 crore has received a bid from the lone bidder Bombardier consortium, and was almost double of the estimate. The project was scrapped and the Light Metro has been approved.
The Kozhikode urban Light Rail Transit (LRT) system or Light Metro with 01 line and 14 stations proposed to be built in the city of Kozhikode in Kerala. Kozhikode Metro’s 13.3 km Phase 1 project will be executed by Kerala Rapid Transit Corporation Limited (KRTL), a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) of the Government of Kerala. In January 2016, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) was appointed as the interim consultant, but quit the project in 2018 due to slow progress.
In 2017, the project was put on hold due to its high cost and low ridership projections which were not in line with the Government of India’s new Metro Rail Policy. A revised DPR prepared by the DMRC was approved by KRTL’s board in October 2020 and by Kerala’s state government in February 2021.
- Operational : 0 Km
- Under Construction : 0 Km
- Approved : 13.13 Km
- Estimated Cost : Rs. 2,773 crore
Phase 1 Route
Line 1 – Meenchanda to Kozhikode Medical College
- Length : 13.3 Km
- Type : Elevated
- Depot : Medical College
- Number of Stations : 14
- Station Names : Meenchanda, Vattakkinar, Panniyankara, Kallayi, Pushpa, Kozhikode Railway Station, Palayam, Mananchira, KSRTC, New Bus Stand, Kottuli, Thondayad, Chevayur and Medical College