Monorail – The Fading Dream
Months after it was announced, the Trivandrum monorail project remains a pipe dream even as questions are being voiced about its feasibility | By Mukesh Venu
On Sep 10, 2012

The Trivandrum monorail project remains a grand dream for the city, and as days go by, the dream is getting more distant. Tracing back years, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation had bluntly rejected the proposal for a metro rail for Trivandrum when it was first proposed, citing that the city could meet the traffic needs for the next 10-15 years by developing the existing road systems alone. Then NATPAC was given the task of carrying out a feasibility study for a monorail project in Trivandrum. In March 2012, NATPAC gave the verdict that the monorail was indeed a feasible option for the city.



However, sources inside NATPAC say that the feasibility report submitted cannot be seen as a decisive document.


“We were given a broad perspective under which to carry out the study, including whether it would be financially viable and whether it would help bring down the traffic on the roads and such. It was just a preliminary study; the detailed study was to follow in later stages. The report isn't in anyway suggestive of the feasibility of a monorail in the engineering, geographic and demographic aspect of Trivandrum,” says an official in NATPAC.


The DMRC and E Sreedharan had voiced support for Trivandrum monorail initially. But since then the dream project of Ananthapuri has slowly faded into oblivion. In his last announcement regarding the project, E Sreedharan said that the study report would be submitted to the Chief Minister by September. In the mean time, the Kozhikode monorail project has been given the green signal, and the pressure mounts on the government for commencing work on the much-delayed Kochi metro.

There was also a time when alternatives suggested in place of monorail, like a metro rail and a magnetic rail, commanded the fancy of the general public. The reality is that except for a suggestion, no mass rapid transit system is being envisioned for the city. Trivandrum has a population of less than one million and a growth rate just over two percent. The geography of the city and the present road system demand an MRTS that could ride up and down through the hilly terrain and also have a sharp turning radius to negotiate the curves.


“The monorail is expected to meet all those demands, but the expectation of overcoming the financial and political hurdles is simply too much. Even the Kochi metro rail project, which was initially planned in the year 2004, is yet to have its work started. The state ministry changes once every five years and it isn't necessary for one ministry to share the same interest as the other,” says the official.


The monorail is to extend from Pallipuram to Neyyatinkara and is to pass through the heavily congested Thampanoor area, which forms the heart of the city. Ironically, long term plans for Trivandrum envisions the city to gradually shift towards the NH bypass side, since land availability is scarce in the present city area to bring in large-scale developments. Once the IT and tourism sector get the necessary impetus, the NH bypass stretch is expected to become the backbone of the city's economy.


With Emerging Kerala and Kochi Metro being at the centre of attraction, the proposed monorail for Trivandrum has been taken off the priority list for the time being. And under the present situation, which shows no promise of changing in the near future, a resurgence of the monorail project to a realistic level seems highly unlikely. Finally, the monorail also gets added to the many dream projects that have been fated to remain a dream, as far as the city is concerned.    

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