MRT System in India
Key Considerations for MRTS
Ar. Jit Kumar Gupta, renowned urban planner states that the planning, construction, designing and management of metros require extensive data, detailed surveys, study of economic structure, profile of settlement topography, travel preference, major traffic corridors etc. He recommends the use of technology that is available within the country or that can be developed since ultimately the system needs to be made self-reliant and self-contained to minimise O&M (operations & maintenance) cost. He advises that technology with low initial cost but with high O & M cost should be avoided. M Vishnu Vardhan Reddy, General Manager, Hyderabad Metro Rail adds that during construction time technicalities like proper hoarding, guided traffic signs and safety barriers are also kept in mind.
Funding process is done through the PPP model (Public-Private Partnership) as in Hyderabad and Mumbaior byDMRC model by the state or the central government as in Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata. Mr Reddy is of the opinion that the correct funding process is the PPP model since otherwise if the government has to take up the funding, it would involve additional taxes on people and a lot of subsidies from other organisations which would become a huge burden on the government. He adds, "Generally PPP model is also not financially viable because we can't get all the money from fair box collection. Hence in 1991, the concept of LPG (Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation) was introduced which is an encouragement for private investors like infrastructure developers. Under this, the viability gap funding scheme caters to 60% cost borne by the private investor and upto 40% borne by the government in terms of grants. The Hyderabad Metro is the first metro to be on PPP mode. Though Mumbai is also on the PPP mode but they haven't taken the viability gap fund."
Ar Gupta feels that the high cost justification of metros has its genesis in its very high carrying capacity of passengers at a very high speed with minimum pollution. He states, "Metros are known to serve the old, congested and thickly built up areas where normal traffic poses greatest challenges due to location of major commercial markets, traffic nodes and residential areas. They are known to provide travel at a very affordable cost." He also recommends the need of a SPV to realise the project due to the huge capital costs involved and adds, "Government could participate through equity or meeting one time viability gap financing after detailed evaluation. For funding metros the government should provide infrastructure but the operating cost and cost of rolling stock must be met by users and beneficiaries. Where private players of repute are involved, the project could be sealed with private participation based on detailed conditions and period of concession specified. Land will be a major issue in realising the project for which the involvement of parastatal agencies will be critical. Sale of air space, advertisement rights, contribution of major commercial whole sale markets which generate huge volume of traffic, levying of external development charges on builders and promoters and a dedicated fund for MRTS can aid in the funding."
The Advantages And Disadvantages
The international standard for MRTS with a maximum speed of 80kmph and average speed of around 34kmph helps in saving of time. Adds Ar Gupta, "With proper designing, the peak hour capacity could be rated at 3-4 lakhs passengers per hour."
Mr Reddy points out that the only disadvantage of metros is the slight congestion on roads at the time of construction which has to be taken care of while Ar Gupta indicates the cost factor as the disadvantage, the solution for which is to integrate metros with others systems considering the volume, structure, availability of space and resources for traffic and transportation.
MRTS in the Country
Kolkata faced a transport problem with only 8% of the land being available for road transport (negligible as compared to the 25%–30% available in other cities) thus diminishing scope for increasing the existing road area. Thus an underground route was envisaged with five rapid transit lines comprising a route length of 97.5 km. While the phase 1 of the North South (NS) axis commenced its services in 1995, Phase 2 and Phase 3 were recently opened in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
The metro has been quite a hit with the residents in Kolkata considering the number of passengers which has expansively increased in the past years.
Large scale expansion projects (covering 87 kms) have now been planned and in its modernisation programme, the existing metro stations would undergo renovation and introduce State-of-the-Art Automatic Fare Collection, Passenger Control system with Radio Frequency Identification based Flap Gates, Integrated Security System, new air-conditioned rakes and Automatic Signalling system.
The Rapid Metro Rail Gurgaon (to be completed by 2013) is an under–construction rapid transit system in Gurgaon, linked with the Delhi Metro. As part of phase 2, subway facilities in all the underground metro stations and bicycle rentals in some are being provided.
The popular Delhi Airport Metro Express rail from the Indira Gandhi International Airport to the city centre takes less than 20 minutes as opposed to one hour by road. Its LCD screens equipped coaches imported from Spain are entirely different from the trains on this line and have in-built noise reduction features, padded fabric seats and provide flight information for convenience of air travellers. The trains are fitted with an event recorder which can withstand high levels of temperature and impact.The metro has been promoted as an integral part of community infrastructure, and community artwork depicting the local way of life at the stations in the form of decorative murals, panels and a gallery showcasing artwork and handicrafts from across India.
The Delhi Metro though plagued by controversies in the form of technical snags, overcrowding and accidents at the construction sites has proved as a model for the other metros in the country to follow. Phases 3 and 4 will expand the total journey to 413.8km and are scheduled to open in 2016 and 2020 respectively. With such a great pace of work, the Delhi metro will soon become one of the fastest expanding metro networks in the world.
While the Suburban Railways provide a NS connect, this corridor will provide the relief in the East West (EW) connectivity, covering the journey in 21 minutes. Phase 2 and Phase 3 would be totalling to a length of 146 km. Plans are on for a nine-line network by 2021 in its three phases of development costing Rs.36,000 crore.
Skywalks have also been provided to connect the metro and suburban railways stations. The air conditioned coaches that are being imported from China with a 1500 accommodation capacity each, will feature an advanced passenger-driver communication system.
Right from the construction stage, initiatives have been on to make the Mumbai Metro Asia's first green metro. In order to get the best hands on experience, a number of executives were recently sent to China and South Korea to gain some hands-on experience in managing a metro system.
While the stations are contemporary keeping in mind Bengaluru's erstwhile architecture and materials, there have been competitions floated for developing communication concepts for the interior space of some stations too.
Though at present 43 stations are being constructed which would get completed by 2015 but the DBR (Design Basis report) issued by BMRCL shows an approval for 162 stations which means that in future, there would be tributaries on the NS and EW corridors. The only complaint that could possibly be related to this metro is the lack of transparency and the shirking of public involvement in the project.
The MRTS operated by the Southern Railway is proposed to be taken over by CMRL so as to bring all the elevated and underground tracks under one organisation.
Sadly, the Hyderabad MRTS which is the country's first two-track elevated city transit system, has been much delayed since 2008 when the contract was awarded to Maytas Metro Ltd after which fresh bids had to be invited. Also, more recently questions on the feasibility of the Secunderabad-Hi-Tec City Corridor from an engineering point of view have risen. Discussions are umpteen about the metro rail set to throw the traffic and city life out of gear by acquiring thousands of private properties. With the pre- project activities in full swing, the physical work is going to start in October 2011 and the HMR is confident that by 2015 the entire project would finish.
The travel time for the metro rail is 45 minutes for Corridor I, 22 minutes for Corridor II and 39 minutes for Corridor III. The metro stations are being designed keeping the local architecture in mind. The Metro that will rest on massive concrete pillars along the central median of the roads will prove a boon for the city's MMTS (Multi-modal Transport System) which is collapsing under the burgeoning population and has slower speed. It is also being hoped that the enormous material requirement of the metro will result in establishment of many ancillary industries and machinery manufacturing and servicing units.
Conclusively, transport needs to be made an integral part of urban design/master plan of the city as it cannot be delineated to a separate entity. A multi-modal transportation system would ensure the use of MRTS to its best potential.
The uncertainty about MRTS, which has plagued the importance of such systems in India seems to be resolving. Though the Kolkata metro was designed without a rule book and the Delhi Metro was designed on international norms but now India has a set of rules being adopted for metro constructions. The National Mass Transit and Training Research Institute (NMTTRI) in Mumbai (established by MMRDA), is one of its kinds in Asia imparting training and research on mass transit systems. The annual training courses cater to key issues like Public Transport Security, Safety and Emergency/Disaster Management, Noise Pollution & Abatement Measures for Urban Transportation, Integrated Ticketing, seamless Travel across Modes and Intelligent Transportation System.
The MetroRail Asia – Asia's premier rail event (with a special focus on India) proves to be a high-value networking and knowledge-sharing of key metro authorities and operators with discussions over India's extensive metro growth. In its third year now, this year it is being organised in Delhi from 8-10 November.