Even as work was moving at brisk pace to make the new international airport at Shamsabad, on the outskirts of Hyderabad, operational by March 2008, the state government has decided to build a dedicated ultra-modern rail corridor to connect the existing Begumpet airport to the new airport.
The 30-km rail link will pass via the business districts of the city and software hub of Hitec City and travel along the Outer Ring Road. The project cost of Rs 2,500 crore, including station infrastructure, track and space development and pre-operative and soft costs, will be funded entirely by the Union government. The rail corridor can take airline passengers, workers and others from Begumpet to Shamshabad in just 20 minutes.
Such dedicated rail corridor now exists in Hong Kong where 35 kms are being covered in just 23 minutes with four alighting/boarding stations. Heathrow Express at London covers 12 miles in 15 minutes. In fact, all major international airports in Europe and South East Asia have dedicated rail connectivity.
The new International Airport will cater to over 12 million passengers per annum and an equal number of those who come to receive and send off the passengers. The new facility will have 7,000 dedicated airport and related staff.
A preliminary study shows rail traffic of over 2.6 to 2.9 million passenger trips per annum by airport passengers. The rail corridor will also provide connectivity to staff of FAB City, Hardware Park, Apparel Park, Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and other future infrastructure projects and activities coming up around the new international airport.
The rail link project will utilise infrastructure and assets of the existing Begumpet airport leading to generation of revenue to Airports Authority of India by way of lease and rentals from the project. The project envisages providing employment to the existing category C&D employees of Begumpet airport numbering 260 who might not be relocated on the closure of the airport by March 2008.
The rail corridor will have city terminals or alighting/boarding stations at Begumpet and the Hitec City. The usage of the existing Begumpet airport for the city terminal is also applicable as per the AAI Act 1994 as it is an activity to support aviation. Since check-in facility is to be provided to air passengers, about 150 to 200 acres of land from the existing Begumpet airport belonging to AAI will be required.
As the project would be implemented by the Government of India, the state government has only to give Right of Way along the ORR. Hence, there will be no financial burden on the state government for the proposed project.
"There will be a huge reduction in travel time from 90 minutes (by road) to 20 minutes through the rail corridor. There will be reduction in pollution levels, both air and noise," Chief Minister Dr Rajsekhar Reddy said.