15 stations, 14 km: Shimla aims to decongest roads with ropeway transit

Shimla, a city that frequently comes to a halt on its famous Mall Road and other bottlenecks, can finally hope to move — a few feet above the hordes of tourists and the bumper-to-bumper traffic. The city is set to get its own multi-station ropeway, an urban transit system that is expected to go beyond the cable cars of the tourism circuit.

Approved by the Centre’s Department of Economic Affairs last month, a feasibility report has been prepared for the Rs 1,546-crore project.

Drones, topographical surveys, and geotechnical investigations have been completed and land for all the stations has been identified, officials said.

With 15 stations, the ropeway at Shimla, to be built over 14.69 km, will have five lines — Blue (4.67 km), Green (3.4 km), Magenta (2.9 km), Red (2.1 km) and Yellow (2.5 km). Phase 1 of the ropeway project will cover crucial tourist points along with stretches of daily commute.

At present, Shimla’s population of nearly 3 lakh relies largely on private vehicles, tempo travellers and buses. But the city’s urban mobility infrastructure comes under severe stress during the March to June tourist season when long queues of cars get stuck on the roads leading into and outside the city.

According to government officials, till April this year, 70,937 vehicles had been registered in Shimla with an additional influx of 6,291 vehicles from other districts. On an average, 42 lakh tourists visit Himachal every year with 70 per cent of them during peak season, driving down in nearly 4 lakh vehicles.

On the “need to adopt a mode of transport that saves on space”, Suresh Bharadwaj, Minister of Urban Development, Town & City Planning and Housing, told The Indian Express, “Shimla was originally designed by the British for movement limited to walking, horse-back rides and handpulled rickshaws. Over the years, the city grew in terms of population but the space remained the same. Even when roads are expanded, people use that space to park their cars since several houses are on the incline. This (ropeway) will be a one-of-its-kind transport system in the country,” said.

Among the areas the ropeway will cover include Taradevi, ISBT, Kasumpti, Mall Road, Lift Point, Sanjauli and Secretariat. The proposed Blue Line between ISBT and Sanjauli will be the longest, with six stations, and the Red Line between Lift and Secretariat stations will be the shortest. Officials said the Green Line will have the highest capacity of passengers per hour per direction (pphd) at 3,685, followed by the Blue Line with 3,587 passengers.

Sources said the ropeway project is part of a string of infrastructure projects that the government is fast-tracking ahead of the elections later this year. They said that while the government has estimated a ballpark Rs 5,000 crore for ropeway projects across Himachal Pradesh, the one at Shimla is expected to be the showpiece one.

The Ropeways and Rapid Transport System Development Corporation HP Ltd (RTDC), a government-owned company, is carrying out the identification, planning, construction, and implementation of ropeway projects in Himachal Pradesh. Besides the Shimla project, ropeways have also been proposed for Kullu, Chamba, Kangra and Solan.

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