The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India on Tuesday signed a $500 million loan, the first tranche of a total $1 billion facility, to build a modern, high-speed 82-kilometre Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) corridor that will improve regional connectivity and mobility in India’s national capital region (NCR).
The first tranche loan will support the construction of the first of three priority rail corridors planned under the NCR Regional Plan 2021 to connect Delhi to other cities in adjoining states.
“The project will provide better connectivity to allow other towns in the NCR to develop as urban economic centers surrounded by residential areas while easing the concentration pressure on Delhi,” said Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance after signing the agreement. “Development of this corridor will have a huge demonstration effect and pave the way for a paradigm shift in mobility and the pattern of urban development within the region.”
“The project is expected to have a transformational impact on the development trajectory of the national capital region by introducing high-level technologies for RRTS, signalling, and station designs,” Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB said. “Besides, the project will also support transit-oriented development (TOD) with systematic urban and land use planning around the RRTS corridor while promoting value capture financing (VCF) to generate additional municipal revenues.”
With a design speed of 180 km per hour and high-frequency operations of every 5–10 minutes, the 82-km corridor connecting Sarai Kale Khan in Delhi to Modipuram in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh is expected to reduce the journey time to about 1 hour from the present 3–4 hours. The RRTS will have multimodal hubs to ensure smooth interchange with other transport modes.
The first tranche financing will be used for the construction of electrified tracks, signalling systems, multimodal hubs and stations with design features that are friendly to the elderly, women, children and the disabled. It will also support the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC) in drafting action plans on TOD, VCF instruments and public-private partnership (PPP) initiatives, setting up a smart-technology based platform, and formulating a gender-friendly workplace policy.
A $3 million grant from ADB’s Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction will support various activities, including the provision of visual, hearing and mobility aids, such as wheelchairs for differently-abled persons. Training for women and differently-abled on safe mobility and employment opportunities and behavioural change for public transport providers will also be given. The ADB-administered multi-donor Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund will provide $2.89 million to support innovations in building information modelling, universal access design features, TOD and VCF.