India and Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Tuesday signed a 500 million dollar loan, the first tranche of a total one billion dollar facility, to build a modern, high-speed 82-km Delhi-Meerut regional rapid transit system (RRTS) corridor that will improve regional connectivity and mobility in the national capital region.
With a design speed of 180 km per hour and high-frequency operations of every five to ten minutes, the corridor connecting Sarai Kale Khan in Delhi to Modipuram at Meerut in Uttar Pradesh is expected to reduce the journey time to about one hour from the present three to four hours.
The RRTS will have multi-modal hubs to ensure smooth inter-change with other transport modes. The first tranche loan will support 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 signatories to loan agreement were Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary (Fund Bank and ADB) at the Department of Economic Affairs in Ministry of Finance who signed for the government, and Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB's India Resident Mission who signed for ADB.
"The project will provide better connectivity to allow other towns in the NCR to develop as urban economic centres surrounded by residential areas while easing the concentration pressure on Delhi," said Mr Khare 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," he said.
Yokoyama said 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, signaling, and station designs.
"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," he added.
The first tranche financing will be used for constructing electrified tracks, signalling systems, multi-modal hubs and stations with design features that are friendly to 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 initiatives, setting up a smart-technology based platform and formulating a gender-friendly workplace policy.
A three million dollar grant from ADB''s Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction will support various activities, including provision of visual, hearing and mobility aids like 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 dollars to support innovations in bu ilding information modeling, universal access design features, TOD and VCF.