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Maharashtra Metro Rail focusing on generating 50% revenues through non-fare services, says managing director

Vikas Srivastava

The Nagpur Metro Project which is set to go on stream in the first week of March has many firsts to its credit from solar-powered coaches to targeted 50%-plus non-fare revenues. Brijesh Dixit, managing director of Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation, in an interview with Vikas Srivastava said, the company will likely break-even by 2021. Edited Excerpts:

Which are the routes you are planning to launch in the first phase?
The stretch starting from Khapri Metro Station to Sitabuldi Interchange which is part of the north-south corridor along with Lokmanya Nagar and Subhash Nagar on the east-west corridor are proposed to be launched in the first phase. These routes will provide connectivity between industrial areas on the outskirts of the city (SEZ, cargo hub) to the Central Business District of Sitabuldi. It will also provide an easy transportation for the workforce employed in the industrial area of Hingna. The proposed work on these two routes would cover a distance of 18.5 km and will be over by February 26.

What are the sizes of rakes that we are looking at?
The Metro train would comprise three coaches against four coaches elsewhere. However, these coaches would have higher powering capacity, which allows faster pick-up between stations. The other major highlight of the train would be a special coach for women called Nari Shakti . The special coach would not just ensure safety for women, but also promise a hassle-free journey.

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By when can we expect both the corridors (east-west and north-south) to be ready?
The entire Nagpur Metro project which covers a distance of 38.215 km and includes 38 stations is expected to be ready by the end of 2019. While the north-south corridor of this project stretches to a distance of 19.985 km and covers 18 stations, the east-west corridor covers a distance of 18.23 km and 20 stations. Sitabuldi Interchange would serve to be the meeting point for train coming from all the four directions.

According to DPR, what is the ridership projected this year. And in the next five years?
As per DPR, the proposed daily ridership in 2021 is expected to be 3.83 lakh. The ridership for the north-south corridor is expected to be 1.85 lakh, while the figure for east-west corridor would be 1.97 lakh. Similarly, the ridership figures, as proposed in the DPR, would increase exponentially, and by 2041, the ridership is expected to be 5.63 lakh (north-south corridor 2.77 lakh and east-west corridor 2.86 lakh). The Detail Project Report (DPR) lists ridership figures for every five years.

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How much of the total power requirement for the Metro will be met through solar energy?
Solar power has been integrated right from the inception to meet 65% of total requirement of the project. In Phase-I, 14 MW solar power was installed which will be upgraded to 25 MW later. The rooftops, depot boundary walls and depot sheds will be mounted with solar PV panels which will be grid connected and net-metered.

What is the kind of investments we have seen till date for the Metro and what is the total project cost?
The total project cost for the Nagpur Metro is Rs 8,680 crore. Till date, over Rs 5,000 crore have been invested in the project and 77 % of the total work has also been completed. Apart from the continuous financial support by the central and state governments, foreign funding agencies such as Kfw of Germany and Afd of France have also provided 630 million euros for the project.

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In terms of revenues, what are your expectations and how soon can we expect the Nagpur Metro to break-even?
Maha Metro has focussed on generating more than 50% of revenue through non-fare box sources. It will be highest-ever in the metro rail segment across the world. We aim to overtake Hong Kong Metro service which is around 42%. We have not waited for launch of services but our earnings have already started. Maha Metro has already earned almost Rs 140 crore through property development initiatives. Metro has earned from the 1% additional surcharge on stamp duty levied by the state government and the earnings through transit-oriented development (TOD) policy. We expect the break-even to happen by 2021 when our traffic reaches 3.83 lakh.