Part I: Airport Rail Link - The Monorail Option

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Airport Rail Link – the Monorail Option
The Airport-City rail link has been a much visited topic, but nothing seems to have been finalized, so far. The central government had recognized mass transit systems as vital for larger cities’ needs & had previously offered assistance to the tune of 30% (similar to Metro-rail systems), which is a small contribution – 70% still has to be met by state government & BIAL, including loans & debts. Negotiations always seem to have ended in deadlock as agreements over revenue sharing are uncertain with changing stands by the government/s involved. It appears that the central government has now changed its stand & is willing to provide more participation as this is a vital sector that can have far reaching consequences for the country’s economy.

Given that this is a necessity & business is assured with higher levels of ticket pricing, the Monorail option could be used here. Monorail makers generally meet installation costs, & with newer, high capacity systems being developed, this can be more attractive since higher fare levels will mean that there may never be a subsidy burden. High speeds may not be possible however - if the ride takes about 35 minutes instead of 20 minutes, users would certainly prefer this to an indefinite & uncertain wait for the high speed rail, if ever it materializes. A high speed rail is also hugely expensive & may never be able to recover its costs, let alone make any sort of profits for its modernization. Assuming that the maximum traffic handled by the airport is of the order of 50 million at its maximum in the future, the monorail would still be able to handle this load at about 6-7,000 passengers per hour.

For the present level of traffic (about 11-12 million per year or about 30–35,000 per day), a rail based system may not be urgent, but traffic volumes are bound to grow, & hence the need to work out possible options in due time.