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The real cost of building Metro - elevated?

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Metro RailPublic Transport

It is Metro time, and papers are full of statements from babus and netas of our city that say that "we didn't go underground because the cost was very high". But then, some citizens say - what about the cost we pay due to inconvenience? Wouldn't that 'hidden cost' tilt the balance in favour of underground? How about putting some numbers to these arguments?

Think of Chord Road, or Kanakapura road. How many people take these roads in the mornings or evenings? Let us assume 25000, morning and evening. They spend extra time due to deviations, or due to slow commute on the under-construction stretch. How much extra time do the commuters have to spend due to the construction? Lets say only 10 minutes, for assumption sake. 10 mins in the morning, 10 in the evening.

So now, 25000 x (10+10) = 500000 minutes. That is 8333 hours.

How much cost would you put to this "time". Mere Rs 30 per hour gives you Rs 2.5 Lakhs / day,

  • So, Rs 2.5 Lakhs / day / stretch of impaired road
  • For two full years? 2.5 lakhs x 260 working days x 2 = 13 crores.
  • Assume 10 such impaired stretches across full phase 1, you get 130 crores.

Assuming going underground would have cost 100% more (a conservative estimate), the extra cost would have been 11000 crores.

11000 crores vs 130 crores. There you have, the numbers.

However, there are many angles around this debate:

  • How do you know that UG would be 100% more? Didn't we start with 7000 crore figure, and costs have crept up? We may anyway have reached closer to the UG costs by now.
  • There would be other 'hidden' costs to going 'elevated': litigations, and delays due to litigations (CMH Road, Nanda Threater Road).
  • Other cost angle woudl be - money that will "NOT" be spent in acquiring land.
  • IIM-B to Nagwara line (planned) has a big UG stretches. So perhaps, a lesson is already being implemented there.


silkboard's picture

Is our inconvenience costed at all?

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While we can play with numbers, one question is that do our planners actually factor the costs of citizen inconvenience using methods like above?

Most of us think no.

psaram42's picture

optimizing commute

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Town planning for optimizing commute would be a better thought, perhaps? Saving commute time and energy expended is critical to the health of all cities, big and small, in general. Work from home, self contained communities are some of the concepts given a go by.

Development of land for use involves Infrastructure development like road, rail, sea and air transport systems, with suitable terminals for embarking and disembarking of passengers and other passenger support systems like catering, rest rooms, warehouses, etc. Sustainability of these transport systems is an important issue, in general. With Urban economic development there is a possibility of the local vernacular culture being threatened.

Full article under reference, for a complete understanding of the subject.  

srinidhi's picture

best going UG

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Yes, we have had this conversation before on Praja itself..its really best going UG..

Also we need to factor the health and stress effects..which really cannot be quantified easily..

So, life of the metro line itself along with all these factors should make UG option cheap and compelling..

only if we could drive that to the decission makers!

rs's picture

High Speed Rail Link

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Sorry for digressing from the point - but since the Metro inauguration, the HSRL has also been in the news - with Kamal Nath sanctioning some of the money. But I was wondering - has anyone done a feasability study on this nonsense. Not whether it is techologically possible - but a survey among say air passengers and workers as to whether they would use it ?  I dont think too many will - because its not so convenient - going only to MG road. The volvo busses work wonderfully at the moment - at least to return from the airport. I dont think airport staff would be willing to pay the Rs 200 that they want to charge for a one way ticket !

What would be more useful is a metro line to the airport - say from Hebbal to the airport. That would also save much of Central Bangalore.



idontspam's picture

Points to be aware of

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The metro is something like the Eiffel tower, where you must have it because it is the latest gizmo in town and everybody has to have it – if that’s the reason then it is basically a show piece

We, because we’ve been starved of infrastructure in India, tend to look at most infrastructure projects relatively unquestioningly – we tend to look at all investments as good things, without asking: could we spend this money in a better way?


There are a lot of truths in the article which shows up on the inability of a single agecy to take leadership in the overall plan. It is not odd to think that unless the trunk is long enough 3km feeders may not be so effective instead very simply the idea should have been to extend the metro via bus in the interim to far flung catchment areas or simulate the entire phases using articulated buses till the entire system is built up. It builds the traffic up for the ultimate routes.

The metro cannot afford to cater to 3km catchment instead has to become one of the trunks along with big 10.It will take some time to establish the connections but somebody needsto be observing the trafic patterns closely & I doubt the metro guys have anyone on the job. Maybe our reports could do it. That will be a positive contribution to make the metro better.

silkboard's picture

Connectivity map - do a report?

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Looks like we have digressed from UG-overhead cost to the RoI on Metro. A positive digression though,

So IDS, a connectivity map detailing Metro Phase 1 and Big 10 connect points would be nice. We can pick and detail top 5 points and highlight what is NOT being done and what CAN be done.

Sounds like this would be a good report to do and float in public domain. Doesn't sound like a lot of work either

  • A simple map of Metro Phase , then Big-10 routes laid on top of it
  • Listing of Big-10 connect points
  • Listing of Big-10 "feed" points, meaning, a popular stop which is close to Metro, but may not be actually touching it
  • Pick 5 points for detailing
  • Go to BMRC and BMTC to ask what is their plan for these 5 points
  • List out what can be improved, or, if they have actually thought things through, publish how their plan is actually a good one (unlikely, but a possibility)



  • 1-2 week for the first draft of the report, with maps, and top 5 connect points listed
  • 1-2 weeks to visit these 5 points in person
  • Week 4 or 5 - publish version 1 of the report
  • 2-3 weeks - get BMRC and BMTC response on the 5 connect points
  • 1 week time Add to the report
  • Week 8 or 9 - Publish version 2 of the report

Anyone else game. Itching to do the next report, been a few months now :)

silkboard's picture

Missed out the "possibilities" section, for Bike-share, feeders

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Forgot to mention explicitiyl, but in our Analysis of 'current state', after we hear from BMTC, BMRC, and possibly DULT, we can list out the items they may be missing on, in a "possibilities" or "recommendations" section. Bike Share, Commuter Rail, Local Feeders.

rs's picture

In my opinion there are

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In my opinion there are several things that need to be done in order to make the Metro successful.

1. Bike Share might work well - bit it targets a limited audience - young men. Its unlikely that elderly people - who have not been cycling for a while - will suddenly start doing so. And I think its still uncommon for middle class and middle aged women to cycle.

2. Bus Feeder - this I think is a very important aspect of the success of the metro. And as I mentioned in another post - would have the added benefit of improving local connectivity in a neighborhood.

3. Footpaths. - At the end of the day, the best way to connect the last mile is by foot. Thats how it works in the rest of the world - and I think that is the most serious aspect of this whole system which is not being addressed at all. Most people will walk a km or two to get to a metro. But it has to be possible to walk. What is distressing is that some amount of money is being spent on making footpaths etc. But the end product is pretty useless - footpaths suddenly end because of some BESCOM transformer or some encroachment. Trees are badly planted in the middle of footpaths and instead of providing shade they just obstruct. Height of kerb is too high and the walk is basically a obstacle course. As a result people walk on the roads and then subsequently lose the habit of walking on footpaths - even if the footpath is fine.

4. As sb mentioned - connectivity with commuter rail - In Yeswantpur the Metro, Train station and TTMC are pretty close to each other. Except its hell getting from on to the other. `They' need to think abotu such things.

Ad the end of the day, there are just these random infrastructural projects going on and the hope is that somehow they will just gel together. But unless a holistic approach is taken, nothing will work.


tsubba's picture

am glad ids you mentioned

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am glad ids you mentioned time. the issues exploded in the last 10-15 years. but has been in the making for much longer and it will take even longer to resolve it. i for one believe it will take another 10 years to build good bones. and this is as good an initial solution as any.

another issue is we are planning based on current organization of the city. if you pay attention to mumbai, nyc etc you see that such transit options change the way cities grow. they are not necessarily pretty but are robust. cities without those, are all pretty but cannot take even the slightest shock. i have lived in afew and see destruction all around me.

p, i think micro-optimizing - optimizing every aspect of a problem - will lead to stasis. for sustainability efficiency should not come at the cost of robustness. but i agree eventually, bmrc will have to be smart about the issues related to the birthing process.

we are just growing through the birthing process of the new blr. i for one am excited.



idontspam's picture

Metro & Land use

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 if you pay attention to mumbai, nyc etc you see that such transit options change the way cities grow

Regarding Mumbai its a commuter rail line of more than 60+kms running into the suburbs that has established Navi Mumbai as a successful alternate magnet not the metro. Regarding NY I quote the below

The subway, though increasing the likelihood of development, could not cause it. The subway itself was incapable of making an area successful. The introduction of transit facilities provided access to either new or established areas, but residential and commercial development depended on conditions such as the intensity and character of the demand for the land, the supply of municipal services, and the state of the building market


We need the metro for faster travel but we need more integrated systems. Today Byappanahalli & Yeswantpur stands testimony to the efforts (or lack thereof) of BMRCL to integrate IR+KSRTC+BMTC+NM

tsubba's picture

ids... we have discussed this

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we have discussed this before. barring the level of jingchak, there is no practical distinction between the various types of bulk movers with dedicated right of way.

botomline is this, mumbai or nyc will be unlivable without their respective volume movers.

i can assure you that nyc-ers dont diffentiate between metro and the various transit lines. some lines are preferred to others (since they are maintained better than others) but none is disposable. in terms of economics, social access, robustness and 'thriving-ness' its an elongated normal along the tracks if you can imagine that. farther you move away from the tracks, more hicksville-y and tenous the local economy becomes.

again. nothing fancy. lots of working class, lotz of small business, grime and grit. but robust local economies and not suceptible to fancies of chi-chi speculation and snotiness.

also, railnetworks are just the backbones, especially in the city. taxis, buses etc form the flesh around it. agree. but nothing lesser than a metro as bones.

idontspam's picture

 there is no practical

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 there is no practical distinction between the various types of bulk movers with dedicated right of way.

There is & its in the area serviced. What is the likelihood that someone wil move from a Banaswadi to Indiranagar because of the metro line vs the same someone moving to Bidadi because of a commuter rail line? The differential in value derived from the latter move, both to the city & the person, is higher than the former.

Every system has its place, while the city will use the metro the attitude towards other modes from the eiffel tower builders who are understand its usefulness surprises me to say the least. So before we go ga ga over our effiel tower lets set priorities towards integration & not cannibalization of systems to the detriment of the common good.

idontspam's picture


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One of the likely reasons for feeder buses not getting enough passengers is its small radius reach... We might introduce buses to connect distant places with areas where Metro feeder buses originate. This may pull in more people... To get an idea of where it went wrong, BMTC has started getting feedback from passengers taking feeder buses, and are open to suggestions on more amenities


Can some ring road buses be routed via BYP? Can some of the IT routes make stops at BYP? What about the MG road side? Where is it bringing people from or taking people to? Can bus connection information be pasted inside the Station so people can identify their connection options (and which side of the road) before they get out of the station? Again some indication of when that connection bus is bound to arrive (timetable ring a bell?).

Any bus volunteers for a project? We will need guys who know bus routes along that stretch. Vasanth, SS87 types. The aim of the project will be to suggest minimal changes but with maximum impact. Like the points mentioned above. Not worth putting too many resources to make something look good to people it will anyway not serve. Perks of the project is we get to joyride the metro over the weekend on the pretext of surveys :) About time too as I havent had the time to take the toy train so far.

srkulhalli's picture

Figure out how to reduce the cost instead

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THis is in response to your original post - one thing you need to add to the overhead METRO (OH) cost is the cost of the footprint of land. This could have been potentially used for something else (actually they should use this philosophy while designing roads as well, we understand how expensive road space actually is and hence needs to be designed with the utmost consideration to efficiency)

So back to the calculation, assume the footprint (pillars etc) take 4m, then over a km, it is 4000 sq.m. Take a cost of Rs 30000 /sq.m (3000 per sq. ft, reasonable in most of Bangalore), so the additional cost is 4000*30000 = 120,000,000 = Rs 12 crores. Difference between OH and UG Metros is around 100 crores per km, still purely from a cost basis still beneeficial to go OH. But that equation will change quite quickly depending on the land cost.

THe UG METRO solves all transportation problems in dense indian cities except for its cost. Its high volume, no interference to existing land and structures ...quick moving, reliable etc. One approach could be to focus R & D on how to reduce its cost - if TATA could come up with a NANO for 1 lakh, if the best brains could work on this, they can figure out how to get the METRO to under 100 crores a km. You can include economies of scale and then run it en masse across major cities in the country.




idontspam's picture

Nice thread

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I like this line of reasoning....

The land cost inside the city you have taken is too low, especially considering appreciation & projecting it 30 years into the future. Also need to add a persqft of "green loss", surface is the only place you can keep green and when that is lost it has a cost. 

Let me see if I can find some data

srinidhi's picture

12,000 per sqft on MG road..

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Thats how much it costed BMRCL..infact detailed costs are well documented in this citizen matters link

Incidentally BMRCL has also paid shops and businesses for the loss incurred due to reduced business..

Calculating all this makes UG a very viable almost all cases..

OH is only good in sections where roads have wide medians or land is owned by governament!

psaram42's picture

 In under ground case

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In under ground case successive stations can invariably be connected by straight lines. On ground one need to follow the road line which invariably results in extra distance and trip time. Hence the additional parameters:-

  1. Reduced distance
  2. Reduced Time per Passenger over the years
  3. Reduced Trip cost
  4. Etc.


Vasanth's picture

phpdt increases

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Straight lines means more coaches which increases throughput.
psaram42's picture

 Location of a Station can

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Location of a Station can also be considered as a floating parameter if underground. However this parameter needs to be handled as discreet  with finite number of options. Proper survey of ground realities need to be undertaken before homing on to a set of ideal locations to choose from. 

srkulhalli's picture

A very timely article

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Could Metro-II 'finish the suburbs?'Nauzer K Bharucha, TNN | Oct 30, 2011,
02.01AM IST

MUMBAI: Fears persist over the widespread disruption the
Metro-II<> elevated
project could cause to the economic and social life of people residing in
some of the most congested areas of the western suburbs. Citizens have
launched online petitions, blogs and protest marches against the elevated
Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd line, demanding that the authorities review the
plan and build the metro under ground.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has
appointed Reliance
( RInfra <>) to execute the
Rs 8,250-crore project, which will have 27 stations along a 32-km route.
However, some MMRDA <> and
state government sources agreed that the project had the capacity to
"finish" the suburbs.

Residents and activists opposing the elevated line say a huge number of
open spaces, hospitals, shops and residential buildings will be affected
when land is taken for the construction of the stations. Experts said that
on Linking Road in Khar (W) alone, around 70 residential buildings, the
Lawrence High School, St Aloysious High School, Nilgiri Gardens, Madhu
, Anand Nursing Home and Chandiramani Maternity Home will be affected.

Furthermore, traffic jams will increase due to the pillars that will be
installed for the corridor. The 32-km route passes through the middle of
arterial roads, like Link Road (Marve Road to Jay Prakash Road in Andheri),
10th Road in JVPD <> Scheme, S
V Road at Vile Parle and Santa
and Linking Road at Santa Cruz, Khar and Bandra.

A government source conceded, "An underground metro, despite costing
phenomenally more, would allow us to plan and expand a network for the next
100 years. An elevated metro will result in large-scale dislocation." An
MMRDA official added, "Constructing an elevated metro will be a nightmare.
Financial institutions were ready to fund an underground line. However, the
government decided on an elevated line because it would be two-and-a-half
times cheaper than going underground."

But a state government official said, "The elevated metro is the best
option. It is much cheaper and therefore in the public interest. An
overhead line will also make the metro more accessible."

On the cost, Congress MLA from Vile Parle, Krishna Hegde, said tenders for
the Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai metros were floated at around the same
time. "Yet, there was a huge discrepancy in the rates quoted for Mumbai as
compared to the other two cities," he said. Hegde said metro pillars in the
middle of congested roads will cause traffic chaos. "At many places,
traffic crawls right now because of the skywalks. It would be worse when
the metro comes up," he said.

Recently, the JVPD Residents' Association prepared a report on the merits
of an underground route. "There is a perception that an underground metro
line would be costlier and more time consuming to build," said architect
Nitin Killawala, who prepared the report. "That may be true theoretically,
but in the context of Mumbai, an elevated line would be much more expensive
and time consuming in terms of land acquisition, narrow arterial roads,
ever-increasing vehicular traffic, complexity of utility lines and so on."

Interestingly, while MMRDA and state sources said the project is on track,
there are still numerous clearances to be given. "A Bombay high court order
states that the MMRDA cannot go ahead with the work unless it obtains all
the requisite permissions before commencement," said Killawala. "Under the
present circumstances, it is almost impossible to get these permissions
from over a dozen authorities."

Killawala's report said, "Public interest unanimously demands an
underground metro.... We believe that the underground metro (has been)
rejected for an obvious reason, that it will give lesser profit to the
concessionaire. Surely, this consideration should not be allowed to prevail
over the larger interest of public safety, security and other advantages."



* Open spaces, hospitals, shops and residential buildings would be
unaffected, as there would be no land acquisitions and setbacks

* Traffic on arterial roads would not be obstructed by pillars

* Reservations for schools, markets, recreation grounds and playgrounds
won't have to be deleted to make space for rail yards

* Schedule for work can be predetermined without obstacles like traffic,
utilities, land acquisition etc. The tunnels would be at least 10 metres
below existing roads

* Quicker construction without complexities and uncertainties would rein in

* Inter-agency coordination -- civil aviation, PWD, railways, MSEB, BEST,
etc - for permissions would be minimal

* No environmental issues


* Elevated line estimated to be about two-and-a-half-times cheaper to build

* In many ways, it could also be cheaper and easier to maintain

* Could be technically easier to complete

* Public would be able to access it easily

* Could be easier to provide security along the route and at stations


Stations for an underground route could be built below six large public
open spaces, argue suburbanites. According to a plan drawn up by architect
Nitin Killawala for the JVPD Association, these spaces are Lokhandwala
Gardens (Andheri), Kaifi Azmi Park (Juhu), Pushpa Narsee Park (JVPD), Podar
Grounds (Santa Cruz), Patwardhan Garden (Bandra) and MMRDA Grounds (BKC).
"These under-utilised gardens and parks can be converted to thriving public
spaces. The MMRDA Grounds are already an established exhibition site, thus
a station underneath would be important for the public," Killawala said.



silkboard's picture

2.5 times more?

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Suhas, note a cost difference estimate there

Elevated line estimated to be about two-and-a-half-times cheaper to build

2.5 times cheaper. As in 250 Cr / Km types vs 100 Cr / Km. I thought the difference was more like 1.7 times cheaper.

idontspam's picture

What is cost?

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Cost is not capital cost of steel & concrete alone, imagine the intangible cost of destruction of so many schools & dwellings? People cant live underground, open spaces cant be had underground. Also, Cost of litigations, resettlement, land cost in all the areas mentioned average 15k to 20k/sqft has the compensation been included in the cost calculations? 

More & more tunnelling will only commoditize the space. Cost of skills, equipment & TBMs will come down. 

Vasanth's picture

If the road is wide - Elevated makes sense - Not otherwise

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I think if the road is wide, atleast 4 laness or 6 lanes, Elevated is OK as no need to acquire large number of properties. Only properties needs to be acquired at the curves.

If the road is not wide enough, something like Bannerghatta Road which is hardly 2 lanes most of the places, underground makes sense. This applies to just inagurated Phase 1 as well since it passes through congested Ulsoor Main Road and CMH Road.

Another problem with elevated line is the loss of greenery. With very strong Save Nanda Road campaign, trees on Nanda roads were saved. But, trees near National College were not spared since there was no strong protest.

Our ORR and Hosur road were strong contenders for elevated Metro which was taken over by Flyovers. ORR for instance, especially from Iblur Junction to Marathalli Junction, Metro construction would not have disrupted the traffic as today's flyovers are doing. Flyovers on ORR have a very wide foot print since it has 3 lanes over it on either sides. That is causing hell a lot of problems. On the other hand Metro will only occupy one lane in each direction.

We should also have a debate on Metro/Mono vs Flyovers - Whom to choose for future? For instance, there was a proposal for Monorail from Majestic to Agara which is in no news nowadays, but it will be taken over by a series of flyovers on the Sarjapur Road.


Anithasunil's picture

Any Idea as to what is

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Any Idea as to what is happening with the Monorail to Agara? 

Even if we want an elevated section on this stretch, I wonder how one can do it!!

Imagine the metro/monorail passing in between the two parallel flyovers (too many of them).. 

I guess if this section comes up, it will have to be underground!

abidpqa's picture

Overhead is better!

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 One reason why we paid too much cost for inconvenience is because of delays. If the work in high density traffic areas were finished on priority, say in 6 months to a year, there would have been much less inconvenience. The land acquired by Metro for construction becomes public land, so there is very little reduction open spaces.

The underground requires round the clock ventillation, airconditioning, lighting etc. The underground will also many problems during construction. Water, electricity lines are now underground which needs to be taken care. There would be problems for tunneling building with different heights and foundations. There will be complications when the Metro lines need to cross each other. There will still be restriction of traffic when tunneling under roads. Regarding train yards, underground also will require yards, and there is scope to reduce the yard size in overhead.

There are opportunities to reduce the cost in elevated. One is design of stations. They are now made in two levels which makes the the stations too tall and hence increasing the cost of reinforcement of pillars. Bangalore also has lot of space to go overhead.

idontspam's picture

Just so you know, tunnels run

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Just so you know, tunnels run a lot deeper than water & cable lines and yards are always at the surface only at certain stations not all of them, even in overhead the yards dont get built in the air. & stations have to be 2 levels so crossovers to platforms dont happen on the street. Cost of delays were mainly due to non technical reasons of litigation & acquisition etc... there is no need to get into those aspects underground.

murali772's picture

lessons from Delhi?

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A major reason for the huge jump in per-km cost of construction from Rs 162 crore (Rs 1.2 billion) in phase-I to Rs 303 crore (Rs 3.03 billion) in phase-III is the ambitious plan to increase the underground component in the network, to avoid land acquisition issues.

While the underground component accounted for 20 per cent of route length in phase-I and 27 per cent in phase-II, underground lines would account for around 40 per cent of the rail network in phase-III


Muralidhar Rao
abidpqa's picture

stations have to be 2

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stations have to be 2 levels

If the stations were not built over roads. This perhaps could be avoided.

I dont see much problem when land of schools, libraries etc. are acquired or even if they are demolished for infrastructure development, provided there is some very good justification. Schools etc. should act as an example by some sacrifices. When metro is built more of the city becomes livable and they could be shifted. Metro has acquired some land but could have more for better planning. Seems like in city, no land should be acquired, but in villages thousands of acres can be acquired.

srinidhi's picture

costs are very competetive

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North South UG corridor

A press release from BMRCL stated that the work would be executed at a cost of Rs. 707.09 crore for 3.76-km tunnels

more here

East West UG Corridor

Type of Work 4.4 K.M  Tunnel of internal finished dia 5.8 M including City Railway Station , Central College Station, Vidhana Soudha Station & Cricket Stadium work.

Total Value: INR 995 .20 Crore
more here
So this works out to an average of less than 200 cr per km..which is way better considering the benefits!! comment guidelines

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