The ambitious Skybus project, after lying in limbo for nine years, is finally bidding goodbye as the Konkan Railway has decided to demolish the mammoth structure.
The 1.6-km-long test track structure placed at about 10 m above the ground at Madgaon in Goa is slated to be erased and sold as scrap.
Besides the structure, two air-conditioned coaches, part of the Skybus service, will also be sold off as authorities have decided to scrap the project in the absence of qualified bidders.
“It is a sad decision to scrap the project. But there are no other options as we tried for long to make it operational,” B P Tayal, Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Konkan Railway, told PTI.
The Skybus project, first-of-its-kind in India, is a modified rail with overhead tracks on the underside of a concrete structure at a height of about 10 m from the ground. The concrete lane is supported by columns rising from the central verge of existing roads.
“We invited global expression of interest for the project twice but did not get any favourable response,” Tayal said, adding “now the maintenance cost is going up so we have to dispose it off before the corrosion sets in.”
The indigenous project had cost about Rs 50 crore. Konkan Railway has to spent about Rs 3 crore more for the dismantling the structure.
“It was the decision of Board of Directors to scrap the project. A technical committee will be set up now to suggest ways for dismantling the structure,” said the Konkan Railway CMD.
Konkan Railway is expecting to fetch Rs 5 crore from the scrap disposal of the project.
Besides scrap disposal, we will try to market the Skybus patents also, Tayal said.
The Skybus project was former PM A B Vajpayee’s New Year gift to Goa in 2003. The pilot project was to connect Mapusa to Panaji. It was supposed to be a 10.5 km route in the first phase.
Accordingly, trial runs were conducted at a 1.6 km long test-track at Madagaon. However, a mishap occurred on September, 2004 during the trial raising serious concerns about passenger safety, forcing the authorities to re-evaluate the system.
Though the Konkan Railway had tried to revive the project on its own after the global expression of interests failed to evoke the desired response, it could not be materialised due to financial constraint.