Kolkata East-West Metro’s revised cost awaits Railway Board nod

KOLKATA: A revised estimate sent by the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) to the railway board has pegged the project cost of East-West Metro at Rs 8,570 crore, sources in the railway ministry said.

The initial project cost, calculated a decade ago, was Rs 4,784 crore.

The KMRC, the implementing agency of the project, has listed the reasons for cost escalation in its letter to the railway board. A change in the alignment of the tracks and an increase in wages and the prices of steel and iron were among the reasons cited.

The KMRC had in 2008 calculated that Rs 4,784 crore would be required to build the Metro corridor between Salt Lake Sector V and Howrah Maidan.

Towards the end of 2015, the KMRC had sent a revised estimate of Rs 8,996 crore to the railway board.

“The revised proposal was sent to the finance ministry, which pointed out several gaps and sent it back in 2017,” a KMRC official said.

The chartered accountants, consultants and engineers involved in the project went back to the drawing board and arrived at a figure of Rs 8,570 crore.

“We need the amount (Rs 8,570 crore) to finish the project by June 2021. The revised estimate has been sent to the railway board for approval,” a KMRC official said.

“The biggest factor contributing to the cost escalation is the change in the alignment of the Metro tracks between central Calcutta and Howrah,” the official said.

The East-West Metro project needs more funds than what it has been allocated in the budget for the 2018-19 financial year because a part of the link – between Sector V and the Salt Lake stadium – is set to be operational by October.

Also, with the land issues resolved, work has picked up pace. The KMRC has decided to run the service till Phoolbagan by December and Sealdah by March.

The KMRC, sources said, has already spent close to Rs 4,181 crore and has funds to continue with its operations for this financial year.

The railway board, sources said, has started scrutinising the revised estimate. The board has sought to know the average rate of cost escalation over the years and about the key contributors.

In the latest query, which the KMRC received a few days ago, the board has sought to know details of the advanced signalling technology – Communication-Based Train Control (CBTC) – that would be used in East-West Metro.

The CBTC will enable trains to run in intervals of two-and-a-half minutes, which can be further reduced to 90 seconds. The signalling system will cost almost Rs 300 crore.

PROJECT FACTS

• Project cost in 2008: Rs 4,784 crore
• Estimate revised in 2018: Rs 8,570 crore
• Service between Salt Lake stadium and Sector V likely to start in: October 2018
• Service likely to be extended till Phoolbagan by: December 2018
• Service likely to be extended till Sealdah by: March 2019.

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