• Thu
  • Jul 10, 2014
  • Updated: 2:48pm

Mumbai opens monorail in bid to ease traffic congestion

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 February, 2014, 1:44am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 February, 2014, 1:44am

India's financial capital has unveiled its first monorail system, a much-delayed project that aims to boost the city's creaking transport infrastructure and ease traffic on its notoriously congested roads.

The first phase of the transit system, which opened to the public yesterday, will ferry passengers in green, pink and blue carriages along an 8.8-kilometre stretch in the city's east, with the line expected to extend to about 20 kilometres in length and into south Mumbai next year.

Mumbai is famed for its poor roads, heaving traffic and claustrophobic local train network, which carries millions to work each day and on which thousands die each year - mostly from illegally crossing rail tracks.

The monorail aims to ease congestion for commuters in the busy eastern suburbs and help connect them with the city's trains. When completed, it will have capacity for up to 200,000 passengers a day, according to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority.

But analysts are sceptical of the impact it will have in the densely populated city.

"The fundamental issue is that the project is only half finished. So you can call the current stage just a pilot or a test of the hardware. It will not be a game changer," said Ashok Datar, a transport expert who runs a non-profit group in Mumbai focused on traffic congestion. Road traffic problems could not be solved by new railways, he added.

Others have criticised the costs and delays of the project, built by Malaysia's Scomi Engineering and its Indian partner Larsen and Toubro, which overshot its deadline by two years and cost 30 billion rupees (HK$3.7 billion).

A delayed metro system is also in the works to help decongest Mumbai's suburban roads.


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