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Amritsar all set to get rapid ‘pod’ cars

Punjab has invited competitive bids for the country’s first Personal Rapid Transport system to connect key tourist spots.

JATINDER PREET  LUDHIANA | 2nd Mar 2013

The driver less, battery-operated Heathrow airport pods .

unjab has invited competitive bidding for the country's first Personal Rapid Transport (PRT) system in Amritsar. This would make Amritsar the second city in the world after London to have this unique transport system. The PRT uses driverless, electric-battery powered, computer-driven vehicles called "pods" which is currently operational at the Heathrow airport.

ULTra-Fairwood, a UK based company had proposed the project for Amritsar, offering to operate the PRT system connecting the main attraction of the city, Golden Temple, with three parts of the city. The company is a collaboration between Ultra, that designed the innovative technology, and Fairwood which is already in discussions with the authorities in other major Asian cities which suffer from major transportation infrastructure issues like congestion, space constraints and pollution problems. ULTra owns the Pod Car PRT technology.

The Akali-BJP government just before it had gone to the elections last year had announced with much fanfare the transportation project in December 2011. Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had even laid the foundation stone for the project.

The transport system in the city that comprises the highly congested old city area housing the holy shrine of the Sikhs, Golden Temple, besides the modern city developed around it, is expected to be a role model in providing volume transport in a major city environment. The border city of Punjab is also visited by tourists in large numbers to see the historic Jallianwala Bagh and the retreat ceremony at the border checkpost with Pakistan. The Golden Temple is visited by people of all faiths from around the world all around the year with as many as 50,000 people visiting on some special days.

The Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB), a nodal agency set up the state government after accepting the unsolicited proposal by the UK based company had decided to go for open competitive bidding in order to encourage competition under the Swiss challenge method.

The proposed project would have a route length of 3.53 km with seven stations at Ghanta Ghar market roof, multi-level parking at Galiara, Kairon Market Hall Bazar, Tikona Park, Railway Station, Jagat Jyoti School and Bus Stand.

Besides ULtra-Fairwood at least two vendors, Swedish firm Vectus and US-based SkyTran are known to be interested in the project. SkyTran is test running the PRT system based on magnetic levitation at the NASA Ames Research Centre in California, USA. Vectus is currently in the process of implementing the system in Suncheon, Korea.

 

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