FOUR YEARS after the completion of India’s first heavy metro line, work has begun on an extension of the Kolkata Metro. Prime Minister A B Vajpayee joined the ceremonies to mark the start of construction of the 8·4 km southern extension from Tollyganj to Garia. The project is costed at Rs6·9bn, of which the central government will contribute two-thirds and the state of West Bengal the remainder.

This month is also due to see the formation of a new joint-venture concession company to build the 25 km first stage of the planned Bangalore light rail network. Following the submission of a detailed project report in June, the Karnataka state government expected to sign the concession agreement during September.

The state is currently committed to funding 10% of the Rs26bn project through Bangalore Mass Rapid Transit Ltd, but may increase this to 25%, leaving the private sector consortium led by UB Group to raise the other 75%. Signing of the concession agreement should pave the way for construction to start in the first quarter of 2000, with revenue services beginning in mid-2003. n