Saturday, September 12, 2009

Letters to Hon. Minister Dr. Shashi Tharoor

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The news in Expressbuzz Supplement Sheet on 15-9-09

(A possible solution for traffic woes)
Brigadier C.G.Verghese, VSM (Retired)


Thiruvanathapuram, the capital of ‘Gods own State’ Kerala, is being touted as a happening city. Over the last few decades, the city has made a quantum leap in attracting many institutions of learning and research and also quite a few modern industrial establishments. Growth of IT related establishments and other sectors have resulted in an increase in well paid jobs. Population has increased, with the native population being augmented by a migrant one catering to these new industries. The City being the administrative capital attracts a large number of people from Kerala and also from other states on government business. Vizhinjam is being developed into one of the major ports in India and as an International Container Transshipment Terminal. This, in addition to revenue generation and savings in cargo import, would also provide ample job opportunities thus further increasing the population. Adding to the influx of people is tourism with Kovalam being an important destination on the itinerary of tourists, both national and international.
A corollary of this growth is personal affluence, despite the increasing cost of living these days. This has translated into a substantial increase in the number of motorized vehicles plying the roads. However, due to the geography and population distribution of this city, availability of land is scarce and this in turn has hampered development of infrastructure necessary to support the city’s march ahead. The appearance of multi storied buildings in a state where every individual strives to have an independent house is ample testimony to the paucity of land. One of the most visible results of this increase in population, personal affluence and inadequate infrastructure is congestion of traffic. This has lead to the resultant increase in traffic accidents, pollution levels and frayed tempers and unless addressed immediately is set to get only worse in the days to come.


The affluence mentioned earlier is apparent from the fact that people who used to ride a bicycle to work ten years ago are driving a car these days. Families who used to own a car earlier are now two or three car families. This problem is fuelled by the following factors
(a) Increase in take home salaries and the number of double income families.
(b) Availability of loans at a rate of interest affordable to an increased number of people.
(c) Availability of cars / two wheelers at a reasonable cost. Ratan Tata’s ‘Nano’ at a cost of Rs.One Lac will certainly increase availability to the common man.
(d) Lack of a quality public transport system leading to an increase in the number of personal vehicles.
The number of vehicles per 100 Km road in 2002 was 5958. With an average annual growth rate of 12.5 per cent, the number of vehicles on the road is increasing at an alarming rate. How and not whether this spectacular growth of vehicles can be accommodated safely on the road infrastructure is the question of the hour and worth analysis.

There are a number of closely related/resultant issues that complicate the problem. Some of them are

(a) Pollution is one of the fallouts as the city marches ahead. The high influx of population, increasing traffic density, rapid economic development and higher levels of energy consumption are the main contributors. Air pollution is widespread in urban areas where vehicles are the major contributors. Vehicular emissions are of particular concern since these are ground level sources and thus have the maximum impact on the general population.

(b) Being a state capital, Thiruvananthapuram is at the receiving end, when disruption of traffic and destruction of public property occurs due to political upheavals, agitations and strikes.

(c) Non availability of adequate parking space in the city complicates congestion as vehicles are now parked wherever space is available. Parking on both sides of the roads leads to further reduction in the available road width for traffic.

(d) Even a casual glance at any of the newspapers would make it amply clear that the frequency and number of traffic accidents is on the rise. Though consumption of alcohol / narcotics, road rage, rash driving etc could be cited, it does not diminish the fact that increasing number of people are succumbing to vehicle related accidents.

(e) Extending the display area of a shop by encroaching the footpath and street hawkers who set up shop on the sidewalk compel pedestrians to walk on the road thereby contributing to accidents. Removal of cement slabs covering the drainage channels alongside roads for never ending-repairs also compels pedestrians to take to the road.

(f) Increase in the number of vehicles also translates into increased consumption of petrol and High Speed Diesel and the resultant increase in pollution.

(g) Despite ongoing projects for developing roads in the state, adequate progress is not being made due to litigation by people who have/would be evicted/have to give up part of their land to cater for the project. Experts dealing with the national highways are of the view that it would be impossible to have six or eight lane highways in Kerala, because of the limited availability of land for construction.

(h) Development in the transport sector is possible only with the contribution of both private and public sectors. Roads form part of the public sector and are developed / maintained by the State, albeit by multiple agencies like PWD (NH), PWD (B&R) and the City Corporation. The downside is that each of these agencies has their own way of developing and maintaining the roads under them and these are not necessarily in congruence with each other.

(i) Laying down of roads has to be carried out in coordination with utility providers and agencies whose networks are closely aligned. This coordination is required in all phases of construction and maintenance. It is understood that a road protocol has been approved and will need to be strictly followed.


There are a number of aspects that could be addressed as a possible solution to the issues mentioned earlier. Among them the primary ones are vehicle density and pollution. The salient aspects of each are

(a) Vehicle density. Reduction in the vehicle density to ease the situation is an imperative need. A practical strategy has to be devised that reduces congestion. Strategies that would benefit are:

(i) Augmentation of public transport system.

(ii) A mass rapid transport system for the major urban areas and the rapidly expanding city.

(iii) Introduction of incentives and regulations with a view to reduce the growth rate of personal vehicles.

(iv) Better traffic planning and management with construction of express highways linking major urban areas, flyover bridges, underpasses and most importantly, better traffic enforcement.

(b) Pollution. Measures that could be instituted / contemplated for institution, to reduce emissions from the transport sector are :

(i) Enforcement of stringent emission norms (Euro/Bharat standards) along with fuel quality specifications.

(ii) Development of better engine technology and fuel specifications to conform to stringent emission norms.

(iii) Formulation of an inspection and maintenance system for the large fleet of in-use vehicles. It is possible to reduce 30-40% pollution loads generated by vehicles through proper periodical inspections and maintenance of vehicles

(iv) Ban on commercial vehicles more than 15 years old and greater promotion and use of alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas (CNG) / LPG/ propane/ battery operated / hybrid vehicles. Expansion of CNG dispensing facilities and increased fiscal incentives for CNG kits needs to be considered.


In addition to the measures mentioned earlier, I have a proposal which if implemented would not only contribute to reduction in vehicle density and pollution but also provide the fair city of Thiruvanathapuram a unique transport system. The proposal envisages construction of a monorail that runs around the periphery of the city. An important aspect of the proposal is utilization of Government land thereby obviating the need to procure land from private individuals thus reducing litigation and resultant cost overruns.

Despite the planned electrification and doubling of existing railway lines, development of inland water ways, extension of airport and air transport facilities as part of the future development, reduction in traffic density and pollution are unlikely to accrue due to paucity/non-availability of land for improving the road infrastructure. This is one of the major reasons why we are not able to construct new rail lines and national highways in our state to cope with the alarming increase in traffic density. It is unfortunate that we are restricted to talking about widening our two way roads when neighbouring states like Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are developing six lane and eight lane roads.

In order to better appreciate the concept, a brief description of the monorail system and its advantages and disadvantages, when compared to other transport systems, is given in the succeeding paragraphs.

Monorail system

A monorail is a rail-based transportation system based on a single rail, which acts as its sole support and its guide way. These systems have found applications in the transportation market, in airport transfer and some medium capacity metro systems. Monorail vehicles are often at first glance similar to other light rail vehicles, and can be both manned and unmanned.


(a) The primary advantage is that they require minimal space, both horizontally and vertically. The vehicles are wider than the beam, and the system is commonly elevated, requiring only a minimal footprint for support pillars.

(b) The track is usually less expensive to build than a comparable elevated conventional rail line of equal capacity. They also cost less to construct and maintain than underground metro systems.

(c) Due to a smaller footprint they are more attractive than conventional elevated rail lines and block only a minimal amount of sky.

(d) The Monorail is a grade-separated system and does not interfere with existing transport modes.

(e) They are quieter, as modern monorails use rubber wheels on a concrete track.

(f) Unlike conventional rail systems, straddle monorails wrap around their track and are thus not physically capable of derailing, unless the track itself suffers a catastrophic failure.

(g) Rubber-tired monorails can climb steeper grades better than ordinary steel wheel trains are also quieter.


(a) Monorail vehicles are not compatible with any other type of rail infrastructure.

(b) In an emergency, passengers may not be able to immediately exit because an elevated monorail vehicle is high above ground. The passengers may have to wait to be rescued; however, this issue can be resolved by building emergency walkways alongside the entire track. Suspended railways resolve this by building aircraft style evacuation slides into the vehicles. The next train could also be used to tow the disabled train to the next station.

(c) Monorail infrastructure and vehicles are often made by different manufacturers and usually have incompatible designs.

My proposal is for construction of a Monorail system over the various Aars, rivers and Nallahs, without hindering the existing road ways, railways and inland water ways in the city and surrounding areas of Thiruvananthapuram city. The basic concept of the project is construction of support structures of the system on Government land thereby obviating the need to evict landowners, which in turn, would reduce litigation thereby reducing cost of the project.

A set of parallel monorail tracks could be constructed on each bank of the Aars and Thodus. One set of monorails could run clockwise and another, anti-clockwise. Stations could be established near all highway and rail crossings. Places of tourist attraction and commercial centers in and around Greater Thiruvananthapuram could also be linked to this system.

Details of the various thodus and aars that could be utilized for the project are placed at Appendix ‘A’ while the route for the proposed Monorail is shown in the diagram.

The motive power for the system could be either diesel or electricity, depending on availability. With 44 rivers running into the Arabian Sea, we could have a large number of mini and micro Hydel projects in Kerala. The power so generated could augment the existing capacity to provide the necessary power for the project.

A possible spin-off of the monorail would be the necessary upkeep and maintenance of the aars and thodus as they would be in public view. The service roads astride Parvatiputhan Aar and other Aars would provide roads for evacuation of casualties in case of any emergency.

Contracts for construction of the Monorail system should follow a strict time schedule and be on the Build, Operate and Transfer principle. Suitable training of personnel by the OEM should also be addressed. Possibly, a better option would be GOCO or Government Owned and Company Operated system. Tenders from international organisations and companies could be called for and local labour and materials utilized.

The thodus and nallahs in Thiruvananthapuram could be classified into three types as under:

(a) Narrow Thodus with steep embankments in hilly terrain or in heavy built up areas. These could be covered with concrete slabs and pre-stressed concrete beams and used as one way or two way roads thus providing additional connectivity. Water inlets and inspection and maintenance openings could be provided for ensuring the flow of rain water into the Nallahs and drains and for cleaning and removing obstructions, if needed.

(b) Medium width Thodus with 15 to 20 meters width, sloping embankments and seasonal water flow. Portions of these may pass through built up areas of the city. Construction of the monorails along the banks would divert a large amount of traffic from congested roads within the city limits. This could also prove to be a tourist attraction.

(c) Thodus and Aars which are wider than the width of a four lane high way and having water flowing in them through out the year. These too could be used for establishing monorails on both banks. Parvati Puttan Aar, Karamana Aar, Sharkara Aar, and the various Kayals enroute could be cleaned and maintained by the monorail authorities and this would certainly enhance the beauty of the area which in addition to ameliorating the traffic congestion would also attract more tourists to the city.

Additional measures. The following additional measures could be implemented and would certainly aid in addressing the problem

(a) Improve the condition of the existing buses and introduce comfortable / deluxe transport buses like Volvo buses at regular intervals between major areas so as to encourage car and motor cycle owners to travel by these buses.

(b) Car pooling by office goers should be encouraged / rewarded by both Government and Private employers.

(c) Public education to avoid fast and rash driving. Electronic devices could be installed to detect violations of traffic rules on all major roads. Ensuring enforcement of action against defaulters will be a deterrent.

(d) Projects for development and construction of new roads and highways should cater for increase in traffic density for the next 20 if not 50 years.

(e) Repairs and Maintenance of roads should be carried out during the night time, which would speed up the repair work and reduce inconvenience to the public. Mobile maintenance teams should be organized to repair roads as a continuous process. The concept of a stitch in time saving nine is very apt for this.

(f) Processions and protest marches should not, as far as possible, be allowed on roads with high density traffic. If not feasible, alternate routes must be available for traffic. Passage of VVIPs is another issue. All traffic is brought to a grinding halt. There is no denying that the worthies deserve a clear road, however, the duration for which the traffic is halted could be better managed.

(g) Changes in the government should not affect development plans. Projects started by an incumbent government should not be discarded by the new government under the pretext that the project is untenable and/or funds allotted have all been exhausted/misused by the earlier rulers. In a lighter vein, if we could collect the foundation stones laid for some projects rotting in the country side, they would be sufficient to build a house. Each leader, keeping aside petty and partisan politics, should sponsor a project and progress it thereby making it his personal contribution to the state.

(h) Provision of adequate parking in the form of multi storied parking stations in various parts of the city. All malls and shopping complexes should have their own parking spaces. This should be a prerequisite for obtaining the license to start business within city limits.

Thiruvananthapuram is going to be in the forefront in India’s quest for landing a man on the moon. We should also lead the country in establishing the Monorail.
Brigadier C.G.Verghese, VSM (Retd)
430, Prasanth Nagar, Ulloor
Medical College.P.O,
Trivandrum, 695011
Ph - 0471- 2448547

Appx ‘A’

The various Aars Thodus that could be utilised

(Grid References are given in brackets against each name)

1.Sharkara Aar (28km)
From Tekka Da (08-43) – Vembayam (05-44) – Amballur ---Velavur (08-46)—Veliayakattakkal (01-49)--- Idaidod (06-48) – Mamam (94-49)--- Vilyilmula (91-49) Kattumurakkal Todu (91-49) --- Manjadi Mud Todu (89-46) – Tazham Pallil 988-45) near Chirayinkal.

2.Kadinamkulam Kayal (8 km)
Araya Thuruth …Pulim Thuruthu …Kaka Thuruthu ….Mattanvila … Chembilppad…..Kadinalkulam …Polanchira (94-40)

3.Parvatiputhan Aar (25 km)
Kaka Thuruthu….Puthan…. Thura… Kolattur… …
Veli Rs……Oruvathilkotta….. Vallakadavu …. Shri Mulam Lock …Puntura.

4.Karamana Aar (24km)
Hangattu Kadavu …. Kundaman Kadavu … Melapuram (Killi Aar)… Irani Muttam …. Killi Palam … Vallya Shala …. Para Chira Weir…..Sasta Mangalam ……Jagadi …….Angamada …….Mannamula……Karakulam…..Azhikod…….Vallikkod……
Iranjayam …..Tekkada.

5.Ulloor Thodu (17km) cable car system
Veli … Trivandrum Boat Club….Aakkulam Kayal, Venpalamuttam Kannammula Mutattu Vilagam….Kumarapuram…Ulloor…Medical College…Turuvikkal …..Srikariyam … Mar Ivanius College…Paudikonam (05-37).

6.Kulathoor Thodu (12 KM) Cable car system
Veli ..RS……Kulathoor….Kazhakuttom ….Sainik School… Andoorkonam.

7.Sarkkara Aar (22 Km)
Pulividu (00-44) Near Ambalamuku … Kizhtonakkal….Kudevur
(96-46)…. Vadaparambu (96-47) … Pudicale (95-49) ..Sarkkara Aar…..Kundalur (90-48)… Attingal Aar….Chirayinkal ….Kadinamkulam Kayal…

8.Pattom Thodu (10km) Cable Car System
Kannammoola …….Kanivilakunnu …..Plamudu …Pattom Thodu …Parambukonam … (05-29)

Appx ‘B’

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This article is about the use of monorails in transportation. For use in mechanical handling, see Overhead crane. For use in photography, see Monorail camera. For use in computer programming, see Monorail (.Net).

The KL Monorail in Kuala Lumpur, a colourful straddle-beam monorail
A monorail is a rail-based transportation system based on a single rail, which acts as its sole support and its guideway. The term is also used variously to describe the beam of the system, or the vehicles travelling on such a beam or track. The term originates from the contraction of the words mono (single) and rail, from as early as 1897, as early systems used metal rails. The transportation system is often referred to as a railway. In contrast, a light rail system has two rails sharing support of the train which also share the responsibility of guiding the train.
[edit]Differentiation from other transport systems
Monorail systems have found shared applications in the transportation market in airport transfer and some medium capacity metro systems. To differentiate monorail systems from other transport modes, the Monorail Society further clarifies the definition of a monorail such that the beam in a monorail system is narrower than the vehicle.
Monorails are often but not exclusively elevated, sometimes leading to confusion with other elevated systems such as the Docklands Light Railway, Vancouver SkyTrain and the JFK AirTrain. Monorail vehicles are often at first glance similar to other light rail vehicles, and can be both manned and unmanned. Monorail vehicles can also be found in singular rigid format, articulated single units, or as multiple units coupled into 'trains'. In common with other advanced rapid transit systems, some monorails are driven by linear induction motor. In common with other dual rail systems, the vehicle bodies are connected to the beam via bogies, allowing curves to be negotiated.
[edit] Differences
Unlike some trams and light rail systems, modern monorails are always partitioned from other traffic and pedestrians. Monorails are both guided and supported via interaction with the same single beam, in contrast to other guided systems such as Rubber-tyred metros, such as the Sapporo Municipal Subway; or guided buses or trams, such as Translohr. Monorails also do not use pantographs.
[edit] Maglev
Under the Monorail Society beam width criteria, some but not all maglev systems are considered monorails, such as the Transrapid and Linimo. Maglevs differ from all other monorail systems in that they do not (normally) physically contact the beam.
[edit] History

[edit] Early years
Attempts at creating monorail alternatives to conventional railways have been made since the early part of the 19th century. The earliest patent was taken out by Henry Palmer in the UK in 1821, and the design was employed at Deptford Dockyard and a short line for moving stone from a quarry near Cheshunt to the River Lea.
Early designs centred on use of a double-flanged single metal rail alternative to the double rail of conventional railways. Wheels on this rail would both guide and support the monorail car. A surviving suspended version is the Wuppertal monorail. Into the 1900s, Gyro monorails, with cars gyroscopically balanced on top of a single rail, were tested but never developed beyond the prototype stage. The Ewing System, used in the Patiala State Monorail Trainways in Punjab, India, relies on a hybrid model with a load-bearing single rail and an external wheel for balance. One of the first systems put into practical use was that of French engineer Charles Lartigue, who built a monorail line between Ballybunion and Listowel in Ireland, which was opened in 1888 and closed in 1924 (due to damage from Ireland's Civil War). The Lartigue system uses a load-bearing single rail and two lower, external rails for balance, the three carried on triangular supports.
Gyroscopically balanced monorail (1907) by Brennan and Scherl
The first half of the 20th century saw many further proposed designs, that either never left the drawing board or remained as short lived prototypes.
[edit] 1950s-1980s
In the latter half of the 20th century, monorail designs had settled on using larger beam or girder based track, with vehicles supported by one set of wheels and guided by another. These designs featured vehicles supported, suspended or cantilevered from the beams. In the 1950s the ALWEG straddle design emerged, followed by an updated suspended type, the SAFEGE system.
During this period, major monorails were installed at Disneyland, California, Seattle, and Japan. Monorail systems were also heavily promoted as futuristic technology with exhibition installations and amusement park purchases, as seen by the number of legacy systems in use today. However, monorails gained little foothold compared to conventional transport systems.
Niche private enterprise uses for monorails emerged, with the emergence of air travel and shopping malls, with many shuttle type systems being built.

[edit] Perceptions of monorail as public transport
From 1950 to 1980 the monorail concept may have suffered, as with all public transport systems, from competition with the automobile. Monorails in particular may have suffered from the reluctance of public transit authorities to invest in the perceived high cost of un-proven monorails when faced with cheaper mature alternatives. There were also many competing monorail technologies, splitting their case further.
This high cost perception was challenged most-notably in 1963, when the ALWEG consortium proposed to finance the construction of a major monorail system in Los Angeles, in return for the right of operation. This was turned down by the city authorities in favour of no system at all, and the later subway system has faced criticism as it has yet to reach the scale of the proposed monorail.
Several monorails initially conceived as transport systems survive today on revenues generated from tourism usage, benefitting from the unique views offered from the largely elevated monorail installations.
[edit] Resurgence
From the 1980s onwards, with the rise of traffic congestion and urbanization, monorails have experienced a resurgence in interest for mass transit usage, notable from the early use by Japan and now Malaysia. Monorails have also seen continuing use in niche shuttle markets, as well as amusement parks.
Modern mass transit monorail systems have settled on developments of the ALWEG beam and tyre approach, with only two suspended types in large use. Some systems have also settled on maglev technology.
[edit] Types and technical aspects

The Schwebebahn Wuppertal, the world's first suspended monorail
Modern monorails depend on a large solid beam as the vehicles' running surface. There are a number of competing designs divided into two broad classes, straddle-beam and suspended monorails.
The most common type of monorail in use today is the straddle-beam monorail, in which the train straddles a reinforced concrete beam in the range of two to three feet (~0.6-0.9 m) wide. A rubber-tired carriage contacts the beam on the top and both sides for traction and to stabilize the vehicle. The straddle-beam style was popularized by the German company ALWEG.
There is also a form of suspended monorail developed by the French company SAFEGE in which the train cars are suspended beneath the wheel carriage. In this design the carriage wheels ride inside the single beam. The Chiba Urban Monorail is presently the world's largest suspended monorail network.
[edit] Power
Almost all modern monorails are powered by electric motors fed by dual third rails, contact wires or electrified channels attached to or enclosed in their guidance beams. However, diesel-powered monorail systems also exist.
[edit] Magnetic levitation

Transrapid maglev on monorail track
Magnetic levitation train (maglev) systems by the German Transrapid were built as straddle-type monorails, as they are highly stable and allow rapid deceleration from great speed. When in full-speed operation maglev trains hover over the track and are thus not in physical contact with it. The maglev is the fastest train of any type, the experimental JR-Maglev having recorded a speed of 581 km/h (361 mph). The commercial Shanghai Maglev Train has run at 501 km/h (311 mph).
In addition, Linimo was inaugurated in Japan in 2003.
UniModal has patented the SkyTran "pod monorail" which would use an Inductrack passive maglev monorail track for personal rapid transit. The system remains in the conceptual stage.
[edit] Switching

Switching section on the Chester Zoo Zoofari Monorail ride.
Some early monorail systems--notably the suspended monorail of Wuppertal (Germany), dating from 1901 and still in operation--have a design that makes it difficult to switch from one line to another. Some other monorail systems avoid switching as much as possible, by operating in a continuous loop or between two fixed stations, as in Seattle, Washington.
Current operating monorails are capable of more efficient switching than in the past. In the case of suspended monorails, switching may be accomplished by moving flanges inside the beamway to shift trains to one line or another.
Straddle-beam monorails require that the beam structure itself be moved to accomplish switching, which originally was an almost prohibitively ponderous procedure.

Sydney's monorail avoids switching by operating in a single loop.
Now, however, the most common way of achieving this is to place a moving apparatus on top of a sturdy platform capable of bearing the weight of vehicles, beams and its own mechanism. Multiple-segmented beams move into place on rollers to smoothly align one beam with another to send the train in its desired direction, with the design originally developed by ALWEG capable of completing a switch in 12 seconds.[6] Some of these beam turnouts are quite elaborate, capable of switching between several beams or even simulating a railroad double-crossover.
In cases where it must be possible to move a monorail train from one beam to any of a number of other beams, as in storage or repair shops, a traveling beam not unlike a railroad transfer table may be employed. A single beam, at least long enough to carry a single monorail vehicle, is aligned at an entry beam to be mounted by the monorail cars. The entire beam then rolls with the vehicle to align with the desired storage beam.
[edit] Advantages and disadvantages

Old Soviet monorail in Ukraine (now abandoned)
[edit] Advantages
(a)The primary advantage of monorails over conventional rail systems is that they require minimal space, both horizontally and vertically. Monorail vehicles are wider than the beam, and monorail systems are commonly elevated, requiring only a minimal footprint for support pillars.
(b)A monorail track is usually less expensive to build than a comparable elevated conventional rail line of equal capacity.
(c)Due to a smaller footprint they are seen as more attractive than conventional elevated rail lines and block only a minimal amount of sky.
(d)Monorail is, by design, a grade-separated system. They do not interfere with existing transport modes.
(e)They are quieter, as modern monorails use rubber wheels on a concrete track (though some non-monorail subway systems, like certain lines of the Paris Métro and all of the Montreal metro, use the same technique and are equally quiet)
(f)Unlike conventional rail systems, straddle monorails wrap around their track and are thus not physically capable of derailing, unless the track itself suffers a catastrophic failure.
(g)Rubber-tired monorails can climb steeper grades better than ordinary steel wheel trains, with Hitachi monorails designed to cope with 6% grade.
[edit] Disadvantages

The Mud Island Monorail, in Memphis, Tennessee (2005)
(a)Monorail vehicles are not compatible with any other type of rail infrastructure, which makes (for example) through services onto mainline tracks impossible.
(b)Monorail tracks do not allow at-grade intersections.
(c)In an emergency, passengers may not be able to immediately exit because an elevated monorail vehicle is high above ground and not all systems have emergency walkways. The passengers must sometimes wait until a rescue train, fire engine or a cherry picker comes to the rescue. Newer monorail systems resolve this by building emergency walkways alongside the entire track, at the expense of visual intrusion. Suspended railways resolve this by building aircraft style evacuation slides into the vehicles. Japanese systems use the next train to tow broken down trains to the next station, but this has yet to occur.
(d)Turnouts, especially high speed ones tend to be difficult. Traversers might be substituted.
(e)Monorail infrastructure and vehicles are often made by separate manufacturers, with different manufacturers using incompatible designs.


Respected Sashi Tharoor Ji,

As our representative from Trivandrum in our Parliament, I would like to bring to your notice the immediate need of the people of Trivandrum for a modern Traffic System of transportation, suitable for the 21st century, which could be constructed at the lowest cost, in the shortest time, without the major problems of evicting poor people from their small possession of lands and ensuing prolonged court cases for the next few years.

The citizens of Trivandrum district and adjacent townships are badly affected by the acute shortage of modern roads and existing inefficient and inadequate transport systems. Due to lack of wide roads and parking facilities, private car owners are finding it difficult to take out their cars to the trade centres and offices located within the city limits. The transport systems existing in the city are not adequate enough to cater for the ever increasing population of the city and its suburban areas. In the absence of any public transport systems like circular railways or metro trains , car owners are compelled to park their cars on small roads and by lanes, at the risk of being stolen by bad elements of the society.

When neighboring states like Tamil Nadu , Karnataka and Maharashtra are having 4 lanes / 6 lane Highways and North South National Highways, our government is not in a position to think of even widening our existing highways and narrow main roads.

Some of the reasons for the inability of our State Government to widen the existing roads and North South Highways or for creating Link Roads to divert the heavy traffic on National Highway No.47 are discussed in the succeeding paragraphs.

Reasons hindering the development of Roads and Highways :

  1. Shortage of open ground space astride existing highways for widening and construction of parking lots and Parking Bays for public and private vehicles.

  2. Very high price for land in the city limits of Trivandrum and suburban areas which may vary from 5 to 20 lacs per cent.

  3. People are not willing to surrender and vacate from their small earthly possessions without prior rehabilitation arrangements and adequate compensation. They have to be provided with alternate suitable accommodation, employment opportunities and educational facilities for their children in the new place allotted to them, before they are evicted.

  4. Introduction of small cars like “ NANO “ , availability of 90% loans from banks and private financiers and organized sale of second hand cars by major automobile dealers have attracted middle income persons who are having 2 wheelers to become owners of small cars. A car is considered as a status symbol and many people are buying cars with their newly increased pay packets, inspite of the high price of petrol and non availability of parking space within the city limits.

  5. In the absence of suitable Public Transport vehicles with minimum facilities for office goers , people are forced to take out their cars and leave them in congested areas of the city. Three wheelers are charging exorbitant rates for running short errands and harass the public. Due to lack of sufficient Link roads interconnecting the main roads and Highways within the city limits , four wheelers , three wheelers and animal carts are forced to ply on main highways and major roads and create traffic jams. The unauthorized encroachment of available space astride the roads by hawkers and shopkeepers also create considerable hindrances to free flow of traffic inside the city limits .During the peak hours between 0900 hrs to 1100 hrs and 1600 hrs to 1800 hrs, it would take more than one hour for a person from the Railway station or Airport to reach his house located in the North or South areas of the city.

  6. Construction of new Link roads after acquiring land in the centre parts of the city and demolishing big buildings are not considered economical. Thus, it is unlikely that Government would construct anymore Link roads within the city limits after paying Rs. 5000 to Rs .8000 per sq. mt. to the owners of the land as compensation. Development Projects like (1) SMART city (2) Vizhinjam Port (3) International Airport (4) Electrification and doubling of Rails (5) Construction of North South Highway (6) Development of Inland Waterways, are some of the major examples in which our State could not make any progress so far. These projects could have progressed if eviction of people from their homelands and subsequent court cases could have been avoided. Projects could only succeed when sufficient land is available and Government owned lands could be utilized for such projects.

  7. For progressing construction works astride existing Main roads and Highways , traffic on those roads have to be partially blocked and some traffic will have to be diverted on other roads running parallel to those main roads. Since we have very few alternate routes in Trivandrum city, the traffic on the existing roads will have to be blocked or controlled. The Japanese water supply system being introduced in Trivandrum city is a good example to show how the development work would hamper the smooth movement of traffic and interrupt the day to day life of the common man for the next few months.

  8. Since we have no CIRCULAR ROADS or Railways around the city limits of Trivandrum and as no Metro Railways are being planned like the Metro Trains in Calcutta and Delhi or the one being planned for Kochi, it is essential that Greater Trivandrum city could have a “Circular Traffic System” covering all the satellite townships and small towns around Trivandrum corporation. This traffic system, in order to be successful, will have to be planned and constructed on land owned by Government without any necessity of evicting many people or demolishing any of their buildings and houses existing astride the proposed Circular Railway line.

  9. Workforce and materials required for the project will have to be transshipped to the work sites and existing main roads and highways will have to be used for this purpose. This would automatically disrupt the free flow of traffic on existing narrow roads.

  10. If adequate labour and construction materials are available close to the worksites, movement of men and material for the development project could be minimized and the time involved could be reduced considerably. If the work is distributed to various contractors evenly in different parts of the project sites, the entire project could be completed in time. This would require coordination and supervision of work at the highest level.

My suggestions for improving the traffic ability of our existing roads and for creating alternate routes for the rapidly increasing vehicular traffic in Greater Trivandrum during the next 50 yrs are given below :

  1. Develop the existing “Inland Waterways” and canals and create Inland Water Transport system between Kolachal in the South to Kozhikode in the North. By deepening the existing Parvati Puthan Aar , Canals and Thodus and clearing the old Waterway, Motor boats and country boats could carry hill products and cargo at cheaper rates than by the road or rail transport arrangements. Our Tourism department could also be benefited with these developments.

  2. The small Thodus and drainages like Pattom Thodu, Ulloor Thodu and other Thodus and major drainages could be covered with concrete slabs and converted into Link Roads for linking the existing highways and main roads.

  3. Each Aar ,Nallah and Thodu in the city limits have 8 to 10 ft of Government land on either side.These strips of Government owned land could be used for construction of concrete pillars and slabs and no one will have to be evicted and no compensation will have to be paid. Thus the total expenditure of the entire project could be brought down to the minimum. These Link roads constructed over the Thodus and Nallahs would reduce the traffic congestion on existing main roads.

  4. On the Government land freely available astride the Karamana Aar, Killi Aar, Parvati Puthan Aar and other Aars in the North of Trivandrum city which are not utilized could be economically utilized for establishing a “Circular Mono Rail System “ around Greater Trivandrum. All the concrete pillars and beams required for the Mono Rail could be constructed at various sites locally, at short intervals. This would amount to distribution of the work to various sites astride those Aars and Nallahs. One set of Mono Rail cars could be run clock wise and another set of Mono Rail cars could be run anti clock wise without disrupting our existing road , rail and inland water transport systems. Mono Rail trains run in Kuala Lampur , Malaysia is a good example for us to follow. Instead of constructing a Circular road or a Metro train system like the one in Calcutta , Delhi or Bangalore, a “Circular Mono Rail System” could be established around Greater Trivandrum city. It would be more economical and practical system of transportation of men and materials. This Mono Rail System could be established quicker and easier than any other system of transportation. Widening of existing main roads and Highways would only disrupt the existing transport systems and increase the miseries of the common man in Trivandrum for the next one or two decades.

An earlier paper which I have prepared on “Mono Rails” is attached along with this mail for your perusal and reference.

Thanks and Regards,

Brigadier C. G. Verghese ,VSM (Retd)

430 Prashant Nagar,

Ulloor ,

Medical College P.O.

Trivandrum 695 011



keralafarmer said...

Thanks to Hon. Minister for these tweets.

Haree | ഹരീ said...

I saw the tweets. If he can't do anything without an initiation from the part of the State Govt. I do not think there is something going to happen. Let's wait till we have a Congress Govt. in Keralam.

I feel he may now concentrate in the development of NH-47. It comes under National Highway Authority of India, a Central Govt. Agency.
> List of PPP Projects Awarded During 2008-09 and 2009-10/Bids Under Process and
> List of PPP Projects for which Bidding
Process Initiated during 2009-10.

In the first list there is NH-47, but only Trissur-Vadakkancheri area. In the second list, there is NH-47 again, but only Tamilnadu area. NH-47 badly requires attention and from Cherthala to TVPM it is a real mess.

I send the following tweets. I hope he may notice.

Anonymous said...

a very good project-
can we dream about it with in the next 10-20years?
we are not suceeded in controlling the flood situaion in thapanoor even after several years- not even to clean the " amayizhanchan thodu " regularly

Jos Conil said...

Dear Mr.C.G. Varghese,

Let me introduce myself as an architect from Trivandrum, now practising in Bangalore.

Your idea of a monorail for transportation in Trivandrum is very timely.A Conventional metro is not feasible in Tvm because of scarcity of land, the visual and spatial invasiveness and of course the exorbitant cost (about 125-150 crores/km). Even the innovative Indian metro system of Skybus ( costs about 80-90 crore/km.

Even in Bangalore, the Metro has spoiled the streetscape in the city centre - esp. the erstwhile beautiful M.G.Road. So we can imagine waht harm it can do the Tvm, which has got even narrower roads.I think only in cities like Delhi, with lots of land and wide roads, can a metro succeed.

Your idea of providing the monorail along the inland streams and rivers is an excellent idea. I'd like to carry this idea a bit more fast forward.

The monorail should be using light motor vehicles, operating on bio-diesel and/or electricity from green sources. Also they should be dual mode vehicles -ie; vehicles capable of running on road as well as rails (there are dual mode public transport vehicles in use in some places in Japan). Small vehicles like Tata Ace can be retrofitted for that purpose.

These vehicles can operate using the principle of intelligent group transport(IGT) as outlined in the website - which is a sort of on demand group transport - a concept which is a combination of a shared taxi & an elevator.

The advantage of this system is that it can operate on rail & road and can offer an origin to destination transport within the city limits, without the need to changing the mode in between. Autorickshaw drivers can be made stakeholders in this system, by giving them an option to upgrade to this mode.

With a revamped and modernised bus network and this on demand taxi tram integrated into a single system, we can find a cost -effective solution to the traffic woes of our city and also provide for it's future transport needs. The most important advantage is that it can, if properly done and enforced, provide for a paradigm shift from personal to public transport.

Best Regards,
Jos Conil

keralafarmer said...

This news is published on Expressbuzz Supplement on 15-9-09. This image taken on my mobile. I will try to scan it and publish it.

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