Bangalore Metro, the journey so far

A quick recap of the journey behind what went into the making of a Metro rail through the hard granite rocks of the Deccan Plateau


A file photo shows Metro Rail employees carrying out inspection work near a tunnel. Photo: AFP
A file photo shows Metro Rail employees carrying out inspection work near a tunnel. Photo: AFP

Bengaluru: South India’s first underground metro corridor, a 4.8 kilometer stretch of the Bangalore Metro built eight to nine meters below the ground, was thrown open to the public on Friday. Here’s a quick recap of the journey behind what went into the making of a Metro rail through the hard granite rocks of the Deccan Plateau.

1. Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL), the company tasked with building and operating Bengaluru’s metro rail project, started its work almost nine years ago. BMRCL, a joint venture between the central and Karnataka governments, estimated the cost of construction then at Rs.8,158 crore.

2. The original plan was to complete phase one of the metro project, which is often called Namma Metro (Our Metro), within a span of five years. Phase 1 had two tracks—one to connect the city from west to east and another in the north to south direction—with a total length of 42.3 kilometres. If one takes out the to-be-opened underground stretch in the east-west direction, only 27 km of the 42 km phase-1 is operational currently with an estimated 50,000 travellers per day.

3. The delay has resulted in steep cost escalation. Karnataka government, at various stages, revised the project cost for Phase 1 from Rs.8,158 crore to Rs.11,609 crore and later again to Rs.13,845 crore.

4. BMRCL was severely criticised for missing deadlines every now and then, even by India’s Metro Man E. Sreedharan, who is credited with building the 65-km Delhi Metro Phase 1 network almost three years before its 10-year deadline. Sreedharan, principal advisor to the Delhi Metro Rail Corp. Ltd (DMRC), blamed the BMRCL officials for the project’s delays and 60% cost escalations in last August.

5. It wasn’t an easy ride, says Vasanth Rao, general manager at BMRCL. The project ran into trouble mostly because of disputes in land acquisitions and the difficulty of tunnelling the land surface of Bengaluru, he said. One of the four tunnel boring machines put to use to burrow 60-feet underground in the north-south corridor was damaged during the work. The spare parts for it had to be brought from Italy, which caused a delay of several months, he said.

6. According to Rao, it costs Rs.425 crore to build a kilometer of the metro. Like metros across the world, BMRCL is looking at non-fare revenues to constitute a significant part of operational earnings. It is leasing out large spaces, earning revenue from display of hoardings, and even selling soil and rock extracted during construction. You can read more about it here .

7. The phase two of the project, a 72 kilometer long network, is estimated to be completed by 2020. The feasibility study for phase three is under preparation.

8. But last October, the website ‘RailYatri.in’ came out with a study comparing the work progress of Delhi Metro and Bangalore Metro and estimated that the Phase II of the Bangalore project will be completed only in 2032 or 2033.

9. BMRCL raised Rs.6,500 crore from both domestic and foreign institutions for the first phase. For phase two, the estimated cost is Rs.26,000 crore. About 55% of the cost of construction in phase two will be supported by the centre and the state governments. The rest will be raised through borrowings, said Vasanth Rao, general manager (finance), BMRCL.

10. BMRCL is also struggling to get funds. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), said in September 2014 that it is not likely to extend any more credit to the project due to delays in construction. However, the company received a shot in the arm when Agence Française de Développement (AfD) extended a €200 million (around Rs.1,500 crore) sovereign loan in last September.