944622_613649798656538_1467359032_nThe metamorphosis of Kochi Metro to a medium metro rail from the light one as envisaged in the initial stages, has triggered questions about the ideal coach width.

The width of each coach was fixed at 2.70 metres in the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s (DMRC) original Detailed Project Report (DPR).

This was later increased to 2.90 metres, taking into account the expected increase in demand for the metro from commuters who are expected to shift from buses, cars and two-wheelers.

With two coach-building firms reportedly complaining to the Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) that they have been left out of the race for supplying 75 coaches for the metro’s 25 trains, the DMRC claimed that the width specification was increased by 20 cm since the KMRL’s high-power committee wanted a medium metro in which each train could carry more commuters.

The firms had reportedly demanded that the specification be relaxed by 10 cm to enable their participation in the bidding process. “The width of 2.90 metres is followed for all standard gauge metros in India. The civil designs of the 25-km-long viaduct and 22 stations were finalised keeping this in mind. Further revising the width might create confusion and pose safety issues since lessening the coach width will increase the gap between the coach and platform. This was the major point for the controversies happening now.

KMRL did not change the coach width from 2.7 to 2.9 unilaterally. In respect of this coach width issue; in the original DPR prepared by DMRC for Kochi Metro in 2005, a coach width of 2.7 meter was prescribed. However, this recommendation was examined during the time of sanctioning of the Kochi Metro project and a condition was incorporated in the Govt. of India’s sanction order that the coach width should either be 2.88 meter or 3.2 meter for enabling higher passenger carrying capacity. It was also stipulated that one of these two options would be finalized after technical analysis.

On the basis of this sanction condition, the Technical sub-committee of the Board of Kochi Metro; which included a Director from DMRC and Bangalore Metro as well as a Director of the Ministry of Railways examined the question and it was decided that the coach width limit should be 2.9 meter. It was also decided that this should be considered as a broad dimensional upper limit; so that individual bidders can offer their best solutions, meeting the passenger carrying requirements of Kochi Metro.

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