"Metro expansion under the third Phase in Delhi – NCR will be full of engineering landmarks. This time we are focusing much more on safety at the sites, better traffic management around the construction areas and introduction of modern and safer construction technologies. We are constructing more than 40 kilometres of underground lines this time for which about 25 tunnel boring machines will be put to use. We will also put up a centralized control centre to monitor the movement of these TBMs through the GPS technology. DMRC is playing the role of consultant for almost all major Metro projects in the country. However, Delhi Metro's prime objective is not to make profits from these consultancy activities; rather, we are more keen on sharing our experience and expertise with the other cities so that they can successfully implement their Metro projects," says Mr. Mangu Singh, Managing Director, DMRC, in an interview with S. A. Faridi & S. K. Khanna.
Your contribution in establishing sound construction and project management practices meant a lot for the successful completion of phase I and phase II despite difficulties in the way. With these strong technical fundamentals, how comfortable and confident you are to execute and implement the ongoing phase III, establishing new benchmarks in quality, speedy construction within set project parameters?
The successful completion of the first two phases of Metro construction in Delhi – NCR has indeed been very satisfactory. Based on the experience gained by us in the last one decade, we are trying to further improve our project implementation technologies and methodologies. This time, we are focusing much more on safety at the sites, better traffic management around the construction areas and introduction of modern and safer construction technologies.
Do you think that in implementing phase III, DMRC is well placed financially? What is the funding pattern and funding agencies supporting the project?
Fortunately, for the DMRC, finance has never been an obstacle. This time, the approximate budget for the entire Phase III is about `35,000 crores. Out of these, the Japanese agency, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) is going to provide loans for 52.68%. The remaining funding is going to come from the central and state governments. For the current financial year, we have already received adequate funding from both the Central and Delhi governments.
What would be total length in km in phase III and expected date of completion?
We have received the necessary approvals for the construction of 103 kilometres of Metro lines within Delhi city. Besides this, another 13 kilometres of Metro is coming up in the satellite city of Faridabad in Haryana and Noida will also have additional 3 kilometres of Metro which will connect the city with the southern part of Delhi. Another 20 kilometres of Metro corridors within the city are expecting government approvals. We hope to finish all these projects by the end of 2016.
What are important innovative design and construction features of phase III in terms of alignment, construction of increased underground area, construction of tunnels, bridges, and increased elevated portion including setting up of highest stations needed?
Metro expansion under the third phase in Delhi-NCR will be full of engineering landmarks. We are constructing more than 40 kilometres of underground lines this time for which about 25 tunnel boring machines will be put to use. It is indeed rare to come across so many TBMs working within an urban area. We will also put up a centralized control centre to monitor the movement of these TBMs through the GPS technology. There are four points where these underground tunnels will pass below already operational Metro tunnels.
In the elevated sections also, we will literally touch new heights. At Dhaula Kuan, the alignment of the Mukundpur – Shiv Vihar corridor will pass 23 metres above the surface. It will pass over the viaduct of the currently operational Airport Express link.
It is being said that phase III of Delhi Metro would be more passenger-friendly. A word about those passenger-friendly features being planned and incorporated?
Making the Metro system more passenger-friendly is a continuous process. The trains to be procured for Phase III will have more features oriented towards commuter convenience such as more grab rails, grab handles, broader gangways, reduced noise levels, better air conditioning etc. The stations also will have broader lifts and escalators with higher carrying capacities. This apart, a new signaling technology called, Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) will bring down the frequency of trains to around 110 seconds which will help in controlling the problem of overcrowding in the trains.
What is next for DMRC after phase III? Has the planning work for the IV phase been initiated? How in phase IV, the total coverage of Delhi Metro in the NCR is set to make it bigger than London Metro with new technical features?
Under Phase IV, another 104 kilometres of Metro corridors are slated to be constructed and the work is expected to be completed by the year 2021. The detailed project report (DPR) for these corridors is currently being prepared. It is too early to talk about Phase IV. Currently, our focus is on the timely completion of construction activities under Phase III.
What are DMRC's plans for introducing Monorail system as a feeder service complementing Delhi Metro rail services?
The Delhi government has entrusted on DMRC the responsibility of constructing the 10.8 kilometre long monorail link from Shastri Park to Trilok Puri. Three interchange points with the Metro system are also proposed at Trilokpuri, Preet Vihar and Shastri Park. However, the further modalities are yet to be sorted out.
As per DMRC assessment, how the social, environmental and energy saving benefits of Metro system in Delhi far exceed the economic rate of returns (ERRs). Do you think that with these spin off benefits of the Metro project along with the need to have reliable and efficient transportation systems in other cities, proliferation of Metro projects in other parts of the country, is inevitable?
The Metro is already spreading to all corners of the country. After Delhi, Bengaluru has already started Metro operations on a small stretch. Kolkata, India's first city to have Metro, is also carrying out construction work to expand the Metro network in the city. Mumbai and Chennai also have under construction projects going on. DMRC is carrying out the construction work for Metro in Jaipur and is expected to get the construction responsibilities for Kochi as well. These apart, DMRC has already prepared the DPRs for Metro projects in many cities such as Ahmedabad, Navi Mumbai, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Pune etc. Currently, we are preparing DPRs for metro projects in Chandigarh, Nagpur, Bhopal and Indore. A study by the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) has concluded that the ERR for the Metro's Phase 1 is 22%.
To tap the growing Metro rail business within the country and abroad, how DMRC is gearing itself to garner more market share of this business in India and abroad through its Metro rail consultancy services. What are projects in hand with in the country and abroad?
Today, DMRC is playing the role of consultant for almost all major Metro projects in the country. Apart from Metro systems, we are also providing consultancy for other transportation projects such as the Kerala High Speed Rail link and the Kozhikode Monorail. Delegations from many countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Ireland and Vietnam have also visited Delhi and shown interest in our consultancy activities. DMRC has completed a Special Assistance on Project Implementation (SAPI) study for the Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit system in Indonesia. However, Delhi Metro's prime objective is not to make profits from these consultancy activities; rather, we are more keen on sharing our experience and expertise with the other cities so that they can successfully implement their Metro projects.
What is DMRC focus on training and related HRD to upgrade its technological & managerial status?
We realize that Phase III shall be a very huge task to manage. On the technology front, we have enough experience. However, adequate competency building among the employees is the big challenge. We realized that the middle level management is the back bone and for quality project management, we need to focus on developing skills about interfacing, managing and coordinating.
So far, we have trained 76 middle level officers in three batches at IIM Ahmedabad with specially designed courses. Refresher courses have also been conducted at DMRC's own Shastri Park Training Institute for officials up to Deputy Chief Engineers.
Of late an erroneous impression is growing that Delhi Metro rail services are quite often disrupted due to technical and man-made snags. How would you like to dispel this impression through your message to the hurried commuters, sensitizing that DMRC is a service centric organization and is committed to have a zero tolerance for any type of snags disrupting its rail services, and is dedicated to provide a safe, comfortable, hassle free and affordable traveling to the commuters, which remained a distant dream for them for decades?
In Delhi Metro, we have zero tolerance for technical snags and delays. If any train loses punctuality by more than 60 seconds, it is considered late and despite such stringent norms, we have been able to maintain a punctuality of over 99.9%.
However, at the same time, it is an extremely complex technical system and certain technical problems or challenges are bound to emerge from time to time. More than 200 trains are traversing over 70,000 kilometres for more than 18 hours every day. The doors of the trains are opening and closing lakhs of times and each station is handling thousands of passengers every hour. In such a scenario, ensu- ring absolutely smooth services is a constant challenge and I am happy that we have been largely successful in our endeavour so far.