Vijayawada: Leaving behind its controversies and delays, as well as questions about its viability, the government of Andhra Pradesh has put the Vijayawada Metro project on the fast track, in accordance with its ambition to build Amaravati, its new capital, as a smart city – Vijayawada and Amaravati, 12 km away, are developing as twin cities. With the German development bank KfW chosen for its preparation, a detailed project report (DPR) is expected to be ready for the 46 km Light Rail (LRT) network proposed before the end of the year. For those who arrived late, the project has been a bone of contention between the state government on the one hand and the Delhi Metro Corporation (DMRC) and the government of the Union on the other. For the preparation of the DPR, Amaravati Metro Rail Corporation (AMRC), a special purpose vehicle (SPV) established by the state government for the project, had previously signed an MoU with the DMRC. According to the DPR prepared by the DMRC, the expected peak hourly traffic (PHPDT) for 2021-22 was only 6,366 and the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 3.47% was low, with the cost of a network of 26.03 km estimated at Rs 6,769 crore The differences with the DMRC over central government approvals that raised doubts about the viability of the project, given the inadequate population of Vijayawada, caused the MOU to be canceled.
Not to be discouraged, the Cheif Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Nara Chandrababu Naidu, has found a way out of the quagmire, opting for Light Metro Rail (LRT) instead of the median meter prescribed by DMRC. “KfW has presented to prepare the DPR for Light Metro together with an international consulting company with special funds provided by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development,” says N P Ramakrishna Reddy, MD, AMRC. Explaining the completion of the MoU, Reddy says, “while the DMRC considered that Light Metro is suitable for Vijayawada according to the PHPDT and projected figures, it recommended a Medium Metro given that the city is planned as Capital city.” The guidelines set the passenger reference point for a Metro with 20,000 PHPDT and urban population with a minimum of 2 million people. The population of the city of Vijayawada is 10.48 lakh within the limits of the municipal corporation and 14.91 lakh as urban agglomeration, according to the 2011 census.
For the issuance of a RFP for the DPR, KfW and AMRC preselected five international consortiums, including CPCS Telcom Ltd based in Canada, EGIS Rail SA Ltd based in France, GRE Gauff Railway Engineering based in Germany, Italy RNA Consulting Ltd and Systra based in France. “KfW evaluated the offers of four short-listed international parties, and found that the one made by Systra, made up of consultants from France, Germany and RITES from India, is the best, and in a week KfW will sign the agreement with Systra, ensuring that this I can finally start working in Vijayawada, “says Reddy.
“It will take around six months to complete the DPR, the German government is financing the cost of DPR, which is around 10.98 euros lakh,” he adds. Only after the DPR is ready, the state government will decide the financing pattern that will be used for the project, as well as the deadlines for the start of the work and the execution of the project. Justifying the use of LRT for the Vijayawada Metro, AMRC has mentioned its greater flexibility than the average metro system, making it more viable in a city with limited population. With lower transport capacity per bus and lower axle load, the LRT can be used as a two-bus system, the number can increase to six in the case of a larger number of passengers, compared to a minimum of three buses for the average metro . The smaller scale reduces project costs by 15-20% compared to the average meter.