In a strategic move to rejuvenate the beleaguered Mumbai Monorail, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has amalgamated the Monorail Project Implementation Unit (Mono-PIU) with the Maha Mumbai Metro Operation Corporation Ltd (MMMOCL).

The merger, approved at a recent MMRDA meeting in Nagpur, aims to streamline operations, reduce losses, cut costs, and eliminate redundant expenses.

Sanjay Mukherjee, the metropolitan commissioner of MMRDA, confirmed the merger and hinted at potential changes in the top management, with discussions expected to take place this week. The consolidation is projected to yield annual savings of ₹40 to 60 crore across various costs and taxes, specifically addressing duplication of manpower, a significant expenditure for the monorail.

At present, the monorail is grappling with estimated losses of ₹529 crore in the fiscal year 2023-24, compared to ₹250 crore in the previous year. The surge in losses is attributed to the acquisition of new rakes and the construction expenses related to a travelator connecting Mahalaxmi and Jacob’s Circle. Ticketing revenue stands at a modest ₹13.6 crore.

To bolster services, MMRDA has placed orders for 10 new rakes, anticipating improvements in efficiency and a reduction in the time interval between train services from 18-20 minutes to 5-7 minutes. The new rakes are expected to arrive in the coming months, with notable enhancements such as a flatter nose design, increased guard wheels for smoother travel, and superior internal electronics.

The monorail, which commenced operations in February 2014 with the completion of its first phase, faced operational challenges, leading to its notorious label as a “white elephant.” The second phase, along with the entire line encompassing 17 stations, was inaugurated in March 2019. The merger with MMMOCL, equipped with expertise in metro operations, aims to optimise overall functionality and mark a turning point for the monorail project after a decade of operational hurdles.

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