When the Pune Metro carried out its first trial run earlier this month, it became the fastest to have reached the milestone (30 months) among Metro projects in the country. With the January-10 run being a precursor to technical trial runs and regulatory clearance and certification, work is on track for the first stretch of 5 km being operationalised in April this year. The entire Rs 11,420-crore project comprising two corridors of 31.25-km length is likely to be completed by March 2022.
The Pune Metro is being built by the Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (Maha Metro), a 50:50 JV of the Centre and the Maharashtra government. Its first corridor, 16.589-km in length, would stretch from PCMC to Swargate and have five underground stations and nine elevated stations. The second corridor, 14.665-km in length, would extend from Vanaaz to Ramwadi and have 16 stations.
Trials will go on for two to three months on the first corridor and start in another two months on the second corridor, says Dr Brijesh Dixit, MD of Maha Metro. After a lull last year because of the elections in May and November-work on the project started in December 2016-and an extended run of unseasonal rains, work has gathered momentum again, with tunnelling having started on the five-km underground stretch connecting Shivaji Nagar to Swargate and work on the priority overground stretches on Corridor-I and Corridor-II moving fast.
In what came as a relief to Pune residents who have to regularly suffer traffic congestion, the Pune Metro project has received a stamp of approval from the new Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government, which has made news by scrapping the city's Rs 5,000-crore High Capacity Mass Transit Route project in its current form and putting into cold storage the futuristic Hyperloop project linking Pune to Mumbai.
In fact, one of the first things that Eknath Shinde, the urban development minister, did after taking charge was to take stock of work on the Pune Metro project. Shinde also said the government would consider favourably all the expansion proposals for the project, besides ensuring that such infrastructure projects were implemented ahead of schedule. Ajit Pawar, the deputy CM, has expressed keenness to extend the Vanaaz-Ramwadi line to Wagholi via Chandni Chowk and extend the PCMC-Swargate line at both ends.
Even as the Pune Metro gears up to operationalise its first stretch in the coming months, Maha Metro is looking to enter Pune's real estate business with around 10 million sq. ft of commercial space being created across the 30 Metro stations on the two corridors. Says Dixit, "more than 50% of Pune Metro's revenues would accrue from non-fare sources, to ensure the financial viability of the project".