Colombo, Feb 28 – A feasibility study on building a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo starts today with expressions of interest and request for proposals to be called by year-end, an official said.
An LRT system was needed to cater to anticipated transport demand in the planned Western Province Megapolis region, covering Colombo and its suburbs, said Dimantha De Silva, Senior Lecturer at the University of Moratuwa and a Megapolis transport planner, the EconomyNext reported.
Japan will provide a US$1.25 billion soft loan to fund the LRT “subject to the feasibilty study which is being kicked off (Tuesday),” De Silva told a forum organised by the French embassy in collaboration with the French Agency for Development.
“We need to provide a sustainable solution for transport for the next 20 years, not for five years,” he said. “We cannot build it and take it out. By 2035, our forecast is 30,000 passengers per hour per direction in some transport corridors in the Colombo Metropolitan Region (CMR).”
The LRT project will initially consist of two lines of 25 km connecting Colombo with the Malabe suburb, a road corridor now the most congested in the CMR.
LRT was proposed as it has a capacity of 30,000 passengers per hour per direction and covers the distance in 25 minutes as opposed to one and a half hours by road today and would not conflict with other modes of transport, De Silva said.
“If you take out 10% of cars that road space will be filled up because there’s always latent demand which is not coming now because of congestion.”
Planners have forecast that by 2035 the number of passengers in the main transport corridors with the CMR would rise from 1.9 million to 4.5 million.
The government also decided to go with LRT because of the need to have a transport network and not a point-to-point system as was the case with monorail.
The LRT wil be a public-private partnership and will have five more lines which will be ready to be advertised in parallel with the Japan International Co-operation Agency feasibility study to be done in seven months.
“The EOI and RFP will go by end-2017,” De Silva said.
The Megapolis transport team had spent recent months in preparatory work, De Silva told the forum which brought together French and Sri Lankan experts in urban development management, transport technologies and planning.
“We need to have a plan first to work with and an institutional structure had to be formed,” De Silva said. “The transport plan team for the Western Province Megapolis project was only formed in January. A lot of work was done getting ready to implement the plan.”
(COLOMBO, Feb 28, 2017)