After running into several problems with the existing monorail trains, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has decided to not buy the remaining five from Scomi Engineering. Instead, it will float a tender inviting other international firms for trains with updated technology and features for the monorail project.
Ever since operations began in February 2014, the Monorail has been in the news over constant breakdowns. In November 2017, an empty coach caught fire and services were suspended till August 2018. It has also come under the scanner of Comptroller Auditor and General of India (CAG) over irregularities.
As per the contract between MMRDA and Larsen & Toubro and Scomi Engineering (LTSE), the Malaysian manufacturer was supposed to provide 15 trains (with four coaches each). Each rake costs around Rs 10 crore.
“We are going to float a global tender for the remaining trains,” a senior MMRDA official said requesting anonymity, “Scomi can always participate in the fresh bidding.” He added that the firm’s shaky financial condition hinders it from manufacturing and supplying new trains. “And, we’ve waited long enough,” he said, adding, “All legal aspects will be evaluated, considering we are also in arbitration with LTSE over the project. We also plan to appoint a new operator by next year. All contractual obligations will be sorted at the time of closure.”
Since 2017, the MMRDA has floated bids for a new Monorail operator four times. Only two bidders – namely IL&FS and Reliance Infrastructure – responded, quoting above MMRDA’s estimations of Rs 1,000 crore to operate the Monorail for 10 years.
Due to lack of trains, MMRDA has not been able to make the complete route between Chembur and Jacob Circle operational. Currently, only the first phase – Chembur to Wadala – is functional, enlisting four trains. At least seven trains are required to run the entire route. MMRDA aims to have all 15 trains by March 2019.