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Monorail not a good option, says expert

The monorail is not a mass-transit system, involves high maintenance cost and cannot take heavy loads, says an expert

The country’s first monorail planned in Mumbai will have four cars instead of eight. An expert believes that the term ‘monorail’ is actually a misnomer.

“(The) monorail is a misnomer. It actually runs on rubber tyres. The loading density is no better than a bus. Only steel wheels on steel rails can optimally carry (more) load,” said Rajaram Bojji, former managing director, Konkan Railway.

The number of cars for phase I of the monorail on the 20-km route from Jacob Circle to Chembur via Wadala has been reduced to four from the earlier eight. Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) engineers have been quoted by newspapers saying that sharp turns on the route were responsible for the reduction of the number of cars to four. MMRDA’s official stand is that the present capacity (number of cars) of the monorail is based on the estimated number of commuters and their needs.

Reduction in the number of cars also means that the monorail would be carrying fewer passengers. This in turn will not help to ease the traffic woes for commuters who are expecting relief from their daily commuting problems. With the reduction of cars, per passenger fare would also go up, thus making the monorail a white elephant.

Mr Bojji, who invented the Skybus in 2001, said, “(The) monorail was never meant to be a mass transit system. It is technically a mistake to have cleared the project. The maintenance intensity and costs are high and you will realise soon what others did a long time back. It (the monorail) is good for exhibition grounds, airport areas, and short-distance transits for limited throughputs.”

Ergo, the monorail in Mumbai may just become another tourist attraction, but would not help ease the commuting and traffic problems of the city.

“Mumbai can be provided with safer, rail-based fast mass transit for 60 lakh passengers, who commute every day, at less than Re1 per km in air-conditioned comfort, without any viability gap funding from the government, at a cost of Rs6,000 crore. But the government is planning to spend Rs20,000 crore to achieve much less and (is) endangering road safety too,” added Mr Bojji.

“The Skybus can deliver the same throughputs as the regular heavy metro rail, because it is designed to match the rate of commuter arrival with despatch of Skybus units,” explained Mr Bojji.{break}

This in turn could have helped increase passenger load in comparison to the monorail. Skybus can handle 20,000 to 80,000 passengers per hour per direction (PHPD). On the other hand, monorail with four cars has a capacity of 8,000 to 12,000 PHPD, as per the MMRDA website.

According to Mr Bojji, Skybus is also cost-effective compared to the monorail. The Mumbai monorail is being developed at a cost of Rs2,460 crore for a 19.5-km stretch, which translates to more than Rs100 crore per km. In comparison, the test track for the Skybus at Goa—along with rolling-stock units, two traverses and a station—was constructed at an average cost of less than Rs36 crore per km within 6 months.

“The cost/benefit analysis for monorail is the worst and it is amazing that someone made this choice. For a cost close to that of the monorail, one can have the Skybus to deliver heavy throughputs like metro rail. The Skybus is also four times more profitable than monorail,” added Mr Bojji.

A Skybus metro for a city like Mumbai would have also helped address problems like space availability. There are a number of skywalks proposed and developed at various parts across the city to ease pedestrian traffic. The Skybus could have helped address this problem with less capital cost and minimal land procurement issues.

“With a service on a per minute basis and point-to-point connectivity along the road with the Skybus, there would have been no incentive to take the skywalk and thus there would have been no requirement for the same. The 11-metre pathway or ‘skytop’ could have been utilised for shopping or as a disaster management zone. The ‘skytop’ also provides a parallel pathway on top without interfering with traffic,” explained Mr Bojji. The ‘skytop’ is the open space available above the tracks developed for the Skybus.

The Indian government chose to develop the metro rail and monorail in the country based on foreign models. However, it has constantly shied away from Indian patented models like the Skybus. The Skybus could have proved to be a cheaper and more efficient transport system for a city like Mumbai.

In addition, the Skybus could have proved safer in comparison to the monorail and the metro rail. “Skybus is a specifically designed and customised railway and uses the same heavy metro rail modules which are configured to make it derailment-free and take sharper turns to follow roads. With its advanced technologies, it enhances safety not only for Skybus passengers, but also for the road users below. Both conventional metro and monorail lack these advanced features,” Mr Bojji explained. In August 2009, a Delhi metro train derailed near the Dwarka station.

In 2001, the then president of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and his team examined the Skybus concept, upheld and recommended the same to the government. The safety case visualisation as required by Dr Kalam was also completed by Dr Anil Kakodkar, Dr P Ramarao and a working commissioner of railway safety—all of whom declared that safety-wise, the Skybus was better than the railway.

Despite all these tests and recommendations, the authorities have decided to opt for the monorail system, and have completely sidelined the indigenous Skybus. The government itself holds the patent for the Skybus.

“When engineers join a gang to bleed the country, (facilities like) the Delhi Metro are the result. (It is) over-priced and under-performing, (and a) financially bleeding white elephant,” concluded Mr Bojji.

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    ajay kondekar

    1 decade ago

    if you see the map of future mono-rail , it is not for common man. most crowded path like church-gate virar , cht -kasara-karjat are not consider .
    As i working in andheri -seepz , i know how much commuter turn-over between Andheri-Seepz-Kanjurmarg .but instead they plan Versova -Ghatkoper.
    Happy Republic Day
    Hopes for Real Re ( public) day in coming future.....

    Jai Hind!!!


    1 decade ago


    pray parihar

    1 decade ago


    Thierry Arora

    1 decade ago

    I can't help but feel as though Mr. Boji is attempting to put the Monorail down as an overpriced and pointless solution, as he has a stake in the Skybus concept and would have much rather had that up and running instead!

    Cynical? I think not.

    Kim Pedersen

    1 decade ago

    With all due respect, Mr. Boji is repeating the same lies about monorail that have been stated for decades. If they are such a bad idea, why do they operate successfully in so many cities? Boji slights monorail as an amusement ride, which ignores the dozens of successful urban monorails around the world. The planners of Mumbai Monorail have NOT made an error, and this will be demonstrated once the system is operating.

    Indian bourses set to decline further

    Fear of China’s central bank tightening its lending norms pulled down Indian markets

    Indian markets remained highly volatile today, following weak global cues and on concerns that China’s central bank may tighten its lending norms. At the end of the day, the Sensex declined 12 points from the previous day’s close at 17,474 while the Nifty closed at 5,222, down 4 points.

    During the day, Asia’s key benchmark indices in Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong fell by between 0.25%-2.93%. However, indices in South Korea and Indonesia rose by between 0.04%-0.24%.

    As per media reports, China’s banking regulator said that the nation’s banks were expected to grant fewer loans this year than in 2009. China’s top banking regulator Liu Mingkang said that Chinese banks were expected to issue about 7.5 trillion yuan ($1.1 trillion) in new loans in 2010 compared to 9.59 trillion yuan in 2009, reflecting efforts to rein in bank lending which nearly doubled last year.

    On Tuesday, 19 January 2010, the Dow Jones gained 116 points while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were up 14 points and 32 points respectively.

    However, in premarket trading, the Dow was trading 40 points lower.

    As per US media articles, a report released by a US mayors’ group showed that unemployment rates would likely peak in most US cities in 2010, but it would be many more years before jobless rates hit their lows of the last decade.

    At 11 hrs IST, the Sensex was trading at 17,548, up 62 points from the previous day’s close, while the Nifty was up 18 points at 5,243.

    At 14:00 hrs IST, the Sensex was trading up 2 points at 17,488 while the Nifty declined 1 point to 5,224.

    Telecom stocks rose on reports that the latest policy flip-flop by the department of telecom could drive away foreign players from the upcoming 3G auctions by denying them a fair chance of getting 2G spectrum, vital for offering a full complement of telecom services. Absence of foreign players means Indian bidders could get the scarce airwaves for lesser amounts. Bharti Airtel was up 3% while Reliance Communications and Idea Cellular rose 1% each.

    State-run oil marketing stocks declined on reports that the Government has no plans to raise fuel prices as of now. Hindustan Petroleum, Bharat Petroleum and Indian Oil Corporation were down 4%, 5% and 2% respectively.

    Unitech, Omaxe, Indiabulls Real Estate and Phoenix Mills fell by between 0.23%-2.87% on reports that the finance ministry had rejected a proposal by the department of industrial policy and promotion that had suggested dropping the mandatory three-year lock-in for foreign direct investment in the real-estate sector, affecting the prospects of the sector raising overseas funds. DLF was down 2%.

    NTPC rose 1% after the power minister said that the government would float a request for qualification for two ultra mega-power projects in 15 days.

    NTPC reportedly plans to set up a new entity for acquiring coal assets abroad to secure fuel supplies for its coal-based plants. A proposal in this regard is likely to be moved before the company’s board soon.

    During the day, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said that the government was taking steps to contain inflation and the situation is constantly under review.

    The finance ministry’s chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu said that food prices will cool off in one-two months and inflation will turn around.

    On Tuesday, commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said that economic growth will accelerate this year. He demanded greater access for goods into China, which comes amid a widening trade gap between the two countries. He also called for more Chinese direct investment in India, especially in infrastructure, while noting that Indian firms are already present in China.

    In 2008, trade between India and China grew rapidly to $50 billion, making the neighbour India’s second-largest trading partner, but this figure fell back to $43 billion in 2009 as global trade declined.

    Yesterday, we had said that Indian markets would stay down and they did so. Tomorrow, we expect them to continue to stay down.

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    Vicks redux: It’s just not cricket

    Vicks has coughed up lozenges in a jumbo avatar. But the advertising sucks

    Vicks Cough Drops (VCD) has been around in India for over fifty years. The brand has done reasonably well in the market place, with a 50% market share, which probably explains its lack-lustre advertising over the years. I mean, why fix something that ain’t broke? However, it seems the time has come for the brand to re-invent itself. To make itself relevant to the younger consumers. And to re-do its famed, boring khich-khich idea, what with the category rivals using humour and some outlandish campaigns to connect with the youth. Example, Halls’ ‘polar bear hug at the VT station’ idea. Vicks has always used simple ads: family setting, daughter coughs, dad feeds the lozenge, or vice-versa, and that’s about it. What has worked for the brand is the khich-khich pneumonic, as a memory device, but clearly more needs to be done in 2010 Impatient India.

    Enter cricket. Always a safe route when you want to bond with the lads, and when there’s no other idea hitting the right-brain. The new TV commercial for the newly-launched Vicks Jumbo features a blind old man listening to cricket commentary on his radio. Sadly, the radio drops to the floor and goes dead. Two young boys, who are watching from the terrace of an adjoining house, come to the rescue. The lads deliver the running commentary themselves (definitely a better job done than all the fossils AIR continues to hire), and the old man thinks it’s his radio. But one of the commentator boy’s throat goes khich-khich, and he quickly pops a Vicks Jumbo lozenge. Soon, the neighbours join in to relay the commentary and all the accompanying stadium noises. And of course, as the new-age cliché goes, ‘aaal izzz’ well.

    So then what’s new, apart from cricket? Even the khich-khich continues, right? Well, the new product promise is that the throat relief lasts longer. As long as a one full day of test cricket at least, or so it seems. Whether this minor tweak in the marketing strategy will get the khich-khiching young consumers lining up at the retail outlets remains to be seen. Creatively, however, the commercial is a big dud.
    Cricket has been done to death in Indian advertising; I can’t think of a single product category that is yet to rush to the game when in doubt. What was needed was a truly surprising solution to break the clutter, and more importantly, to win over the defecting Gen Next audiences. (For example, why couldn’t they think of Mayawati at a day-long press conference, delivering sweet sounding firmans against all and sundry??)

    Here’s a forecast: Methinks the next situation Vicks will use is sex. After all, when all else fails, even cricket, there’s always sex to save the day. What’s the connection between bad throat and sex, did you ask? Naah, can’t reveal that here, this is a family website. Don’t want to blow things up at the very first ad post out here!

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