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French govt. offers help to set up traffic-support centre for metro

The French government has offered help to formulate an operation and maintenance (O and M) strategy for Kochi Metro and to set up a traffic-support centre, Elias George, Managing Director of Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), has said.


He was addressing reporters along with Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of France to India, here on Tuesday after holding deliberations on metro, non-motorised transport and pedestrian projects. The French offer comes close on the heels of French development agency Agence Française de Développement (AFD) sanctioning a Rs.1,500-crore loan for the metro’s phase one and offering another loan worth approximately Rs.1,100 crore for its Kakkanad extension. They have also offered approximately Rs.215-crore loan for improving urban infrastructure along the metro corridor.


Administrative nod


Speaking to The Hindu after the meeting, Mr. George said a French consultant was expected here shortly to provide suggestions on metro’s O and M strategy. “The traffic-support centre will be an integrated command and control centre which will be set up here using funds of the Smart City Mission. The government has given administrative approval to KMRL to establish the centre which will be the nerve centre to integrate and streamline different modes of public transport. Only a few cities such as Pune have this. The French have offered technical know-how on this,” he said.


Mayor Soumini Jain and metro officials visited Lyon in France to study its implementation.


In the meantime, the AFD Board was expected to approve the loan for the metro’s Kakkanad extension and for infrastructure development at its meeting scheduled to be held on Thursday, Mr. Ziegler said.


Mr. George said Rs.100 crore of the loan for infrastructure development would be used to improve the vicinity of 22 metro stations in the Aluva-Pettah corridor.


“This includes modern footpaths, safe crossings for pedestrians and parking space for feeder buses, autorickshaws, etc. The rest of the loan will be used to develop key junctions such as Aluva and Edappally and to promote non-motorised modes of transport,” he said. Referring to the 18-acre integrated township that KMRL would develop in Kakkanad to source revenue for metro’s O and M, Mr. George said construction works would commence within months and tenders will be invited within weeks. The township is a precursor to the Metro Village proposed in 200 acres at Muttom.


An eco-friendly plan will be finalised shortly. Rent and sales proceeds from the village are crucial to ensure that the metro breaks even at the earliest.


Mr. Ziegler reiterated that Kochi Metro was the most cost-effective project being funded in India by AFD. On the agency offering to fund second phase development works of Vyttila Mobility Hub, he said that a decision would be taken after looking at the detailed project report. “We can also help with design and other components,” he said.


The French delegation, which included Nicolas Fornage, AFD Regional Director for South Asia, also visited metro’s Kalamassery station and the maintenance yard at Muttom.

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