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Delays hit Chennai's unfinished metro project

Chennai Central railway station Chennai Central railway station Jayakumar
06 Mar
2015
Chennai’s £2.6billion metro system is among India’s most expensive megaprojects, but a scheduled opening this month has been delayed

Chennai, in southeast India, is the country’s fourth largest city with eight million people in living in its metropolitan area.

Work on a new metro system to serve the city started in 2009. When complete, the Chennai Metro Rail will take around 750,000 passengers a day into the city, rising to over one million by 2016. The project also involves constructing 17 new stations  to serve the metro’s lines.

Passengers were expecting to be riding the metro rails this very month, but an announcement in the Lok Sabha (India’s parliament) this week casts doubt on achieving this goal. A new completion date has now been set for December 2016, according to India’s Business Standard.

Vadapalani Station Chennai Metro Rail LtdVadapalani Station, Chennai (Image: Chennai Metro Rail)

Chennai Metro Rail’s own January bulletin reports that two tunnels on the project are only 60 per cent complete.

It’s not the only Indian metro project facing delays. Delhi and Bangalore’s projects are also running up to a year behind schedule.

The Chennai project is part-funded through private lenders and a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which provided 59 per cent of the finance to be repaid over 30 years. India’s central government and Tamil Nadu state provided the remainder.

D-Wall Breakthrough At Anna Nagar Tower StationBreakthrough At Anna Nagar Tower Station (Image: Chennai Metro Rail)

The project displaced around 275 families of slum dwellers near the Adyar River, according to Chennai Metro Rail. Slum dwellers displaced by the company are entitled to a subsistence allowance for 12 months, along with the right to salvage materials, according to the company.

Trial RunTrial Run (Image: Chennai Metro Rail)

Trains are being tested on a six-mile track operating between Koyambedu and Alandur, according to The Hindu. Tests began after Chennai Metro Rail received the first nine trains for the network from Sri City, a nearby industrial city. Steel for the tracks came from Scunthorpe’s Tata steel plant.

Chennai itself is a major manufacturing hub, with the leather and automotive industry playing large roles in the city economy, along with banking.

A second 38-mile phase extension to the metro is still under consideration by the state’s government.

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