Chennai Metro to be Operational by 2014-15

Chennai Metro

K. Rajaraman
"The construction work on Chennai Metro Rail Project (CMRP) is on full swing. The project is slated to be operational by 2014-15. The construction of elevated viaducts (20 Km) and metro stations has reached advanced stages. 4 coaches manufactured in Brazil, has already arrived and 12 km of ballestless track has been laid. Installation of Overhead electrification system has also been progressing. As assuring trained manpower for the metrorail is a daunting task for the project authorities, CMRP is in the process of setting up its training institute in Chennai," discloses Mr. K. Rajaraman (I.A.S) Managing Director - Chennai Metro in an interview with S.K Khanna.

Congratulation for moving fast on your Metro Rail Project. Kindly enlighten our readers on the current status of Chennai Metro Rail project including phases ready for operation and phases for which construction and engineering work is in progress.
The Chennai Metro Rail Project (CMRP) envisages creation of two metro rail corridors (total length 45.046 Km) under Phase–I with Corridor-1 (23.085 km) from Washermenpet to Chennai Airport (Washermenpet to Saidapet underground and remainder elevated) and Corridor -2 (21.961Km) from Chennai Central to St. Thomas Mount (Chennai Central to Thirumangalam underground and remainder elevated). The above two corridors meet at two locations viz. Chennai Central and Alandur. The entire phase–I is under the construction stage.

The construction of elevated viaducts (20 Km) and metro stations has reached an advanced stage with 75% of the works completed. In respect of Depot coming at Koyambedu, 55% of civil construction works have so far been completed. In respect of construction of underground metro stations and associated tunnels (25 Km), 35% of works have so far been completed.

Ariel-view-of-Nehru-Park-station
Ariel view of Nehru Park station

Chennai-metro-T1

In respect of systems, the first train set consisting of 4 coaches manufactured in Brazil, has already arrived at Koyambedu Depot in June, 2013 and 12 km of ballestless track has been laid in the elevated section. Installation of Overhead electrification system has been progressing. Signaling and telecommunication works have also commenced.

What would be the total length it would cover when hits the final phase and targeted deadlines for completion of all the phases?
The approval of the State and Central Governments have been received for Phase-I of the project covering a total length of 45 Km. It is expected that the entire length of 45 Km would be made operational by the end of 2015.

What is the estimated cost of this project and funding arrangement arrived at?
The estimated completion cost of the project is Rs.14,600 crores. The Central Government is contributing 15% of the project cost as equity and 5% as subordinate debt. The State Government is contributing 15% as equity and 5.78% as subordinate debt. The balance 59.22% of the project cost is being met from JICA's loan assistance, which is being released by Government of India as Pass Through Assistance.

Breakthrough-done-by-TBM
Breakthrough was done by TBM 1 of UAA 03 package by reaching the Saidapet station D Wall from Saidapet ramp.

What are the important design and construction features of the project negotiating difficult terrains and crowed spaces? What would be underground and elevated portions of the metro corridors?
The elevated sections of Corridor 1 and Corridor 2 are crossing each other at Alandur. This elevated station has been designed at two levels (one over other) duly accounting for the restricted over all height of the station due to the Airport in near vicinity and the flight path. This was achieved by suitably designing both vertical & horizontal alignments in the approaches on either side. The resulting station layout is nearly unique and also has minimal land acquisition.

Corridor 2 emanates from Chennai Central underground metro station and Corridor 1 also passes through the above metro station. Thus Central metro station has been designed in such a way to house the stations for both the Corridors, one below another, duly providing facility for inter modal transfer.

In general, metro rail alignments have been designed in such a way that it is accessible to other modes of public transport. The metro stations are located very close to Bus, Railway stations and Chennai Airport to facilitate multimodal integration and to achieve seamless transfer of commuters.

At Kathipara Junction, just before the Alandurelevated station, about 75m of span has to be bridged over the road ramp for which a balancing cantilever type span is designed with unique features. The alignment from OTA to Meenambakkam passes by the side of the Airport and hence the alignment has been taken below the ground for a short stretch in order to avoid impact on the air funnel.

Most of the city's road network has right of way in the order of 20m to 25m. The alignment passes through three arterial roads and the traffic diversion at all the roads at the same point of time pose a serious challenge. Utilities had to be diverted and re-diverted within the narrow and crowded roads.

The tunnels pass mostly under the roads, but for over 2km they pass beneath the thickly populated areas with old buildings without proper foundations posing serious challenge for tunneling. Also, at these locations domestic water wells (open & borewells) are located along the alignment, which were all to be plugged before tunneling and alternate water supply provided to the residents. One stretch of tunnels pass under 770 buildings for a length of 1.3 Km.

St-Thomas-Mount-Metro-Station
Work in progress at St Thomas Mount Metro Station

The City of Chennai with rich history is known for its Heritage structures. Underground Metro alignment passes nearby a handful of Heritage structures, and hence the entry/exit structures of the underground stations which are located above ground had to be carefully designed to merge with the heritage environment and city scape. The design had to be got approved by the Heritage Conservation Committee. Construction methodology also needed to be appropriately modified.

Mixed ground conditions pose severe challenge for tunneling as well as diaphragm wall construction and station excavation. High water table is another unique feature of this coastal city making the design and construction to be of high standard. The Metro tunnel traverses below a river and below existing railway tracks, necessitating taking series of precautions while executing tunnel works.

Besides, the elevated metro alignment crosses existing Railway track system at a skew angle necessitating superstructure of fabricated steel structure.

Are there any plans to go in for monorail system as feeder services to compliment the metro system in the city?
The government of Tamil Nadu has decided to introduce Monorail system in Chennai Metropolitan Area to reduce the traffic congestion and to improve mobility. In the first phase, 57 Km will be covered.

In the first phase, three stretches of Monorail system viz. Poonamallee to Kathipara, Poonamallee to Vadapalaniand Vandalur to Velachery have been proposed to be connected with Metro rail system and thus the monorail system will also serve as feeder services. Tenders have been invited on a BOT format for these 3 Corridors by the Government of Tamil Nadu.

What are the various important construction and engineering agencies associated with the metro project?
The list of important construction and engineering agencies associated with the project are indicated below; M/s Soma Enterprise Limited, M/s Larsen & Toubro Limited, M/s Consolidated Construction Consortium limited, M/s LancoInfratech Limited, M/s Transtonnelstroy - Afcons JV, M/s Gammon – OJSC Mosmetrostroy JV, M/s Metro Tunnelling Chennai L&T-SUCG JV, M/s Emirates Trading Agency LLC, Dubai & ETA Engineering Private Limited, India (Consortium), M/s Voltas Limited, M/s Alstom Transport S.A. & Alstom Projects India Ltd. Consortium, M/s Siemens AG & Siemens India Limited Consortium, M/s Siemens Aktiengesellschaft, Germany and Siemens Limited India, The Nippon Signal Co. Ltd, M/s Johnson Lifts Private Limited & SJEC Corporation Consortium, M/s EMBYE Consortium led by Egis Rail.

Assuring trained manpower for the Metrorail project is a daunting task for the metro project authorities. What is the system placed in the organization to train construction and engineering staff and attracting new talents for the emerging metro rail business?
CMRL is in the process of establishing the CMRL Training Institute in Chennai to be managed by a Principal in the rank of the Deputy General Manager assisted by a Vice Principal in the rank of the Manager. They will be supported by trainers who are experts in the relevant fields. The trainers will be drawn from the serving departments on a selection basis.

Till a permanent training institute is set up, CMRL is training its staff in reputed Metro Institutes of DMRC and Indian Railway Training Institutes for various categories of staff.

Do you have any plan to render technical consultancy services relating to setting up of metro system in the country based on your rich experience of executing ambitious Metrorail Projects?
CMRL is in the construction stage. It is in the process of recruiting technical manpower for operation and maintenance. We have built up expertise in the areas of planning and construction of metro systems especially underground construction. We could consider rendering technical consultancy services for others to set up metro systems in the coming years.
NBM&CW August 2013
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