The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) is looking to raise Rs 1,000 crore through private placement of bonds. "We were planning to tap financial institutions, but would not like to do it now as the interest rates are high," the Corporation's new Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola told Business Today.
Kharola, a 1985-batch IAS officer, said BMRLC will wait for interest rates to soften before starting to raise more funds. The corporation, in which the governments of India and Karnataka are equal partners, has been implementing the metro project with equity and debt raised from many financial institutions including the Japan International Cooperation Agency. The 42.3 km Phase I of the project comprising two corridors - the 18.1 km long East-West corridor and the 24.2 km long North-South corridor - is estimated to cost about Rs 12,000 crore.
The Corporation is awaiting clearance from the Government of India before starting on the 72 km long Phase II of the project at a cost of Rs 25,000 crore, the MD said. Phase II involves extending the lines laid under the Phase I, and beginning two new routes, one of which will connect Bangalore's arterial areas with Electronic City - the address that houses many well-known information technology companies including Infosys Ltd.
The entire Phase I of the project will be ready by March 2015, Kharola said. "We hope to complete all the civil works including tunneling by October next year, but will require about six months time after that for the laying of tracks and signaling systems." The construction work, he added, was going on in many parts of the city simultaneously, which would help the corporation to meet completion schedules.
The metro service will be thrown open in stages. A 7-km stretch of the Bangalore Metro in the East-West corridor is already open for commuters, and another stretch of 10 km in the North-South corridor will be open by the end of November this year, the MD said. Another stretch of 4-km in the North-South section will follow four months after that. By July next year, the 18 km East-West corridor will be fully ready, and might be open to commuters two months after that.
The fall in the value of the rupee against the US dollar has had some impact on the project as there are some contracts that are payable in dollars. Though a few coaches were imported initially, the corporation is now relying on the public sector BEML Ltd for supply of coaches. Each train (rake) will have a minimum of three coaches, which can go up to six depending on the demand. Each coach costs Rs 9.85 crore, and the corporation has placed orders for 50 rakes under Phase I. The Bangalore-headquartered public sector company has already supplied 40 coaches made to Bangalore Metro's specifications, Kharola said.
Each coach has a capacity to carry 1000 people, and Bangalore's metro station platforms are designed for six-coach operations.