Home Infrastructure Challenges galore for Indian metro sector
Challenges galore for Indian metro sector

Challenges galore for Indian metro sector


The public transportation system in most of the cities in India is grossly inadequate and can be considered inefficient or insufficient at large. In order to improve the public transportation system, the government has provided the Metro and the mass rapid transit system (MRTS) in some of the major cities of the country or they are being planned in various cities to reduce the spiralling problem of traffic congestion.

Experts believe as the population of a city grows share of public transportation — road or rail based — should increase for a city. According to a report by Sekar & Karthigeyan “For a population of 1 or 2 million the share of public transportation should be about 50 per cent–60 per cent. Moreover the percentage share of public transport should progressively increase with the population growth of the city, and should reach about 75 per cent when the population of the city reaches the 5 million mark.”

The selection of a public transport system on a corridor in a city whether it should be road based or rail-based — metro rail or mono rail, primarily depends on the traffic density during the peak hours on that particular corridor.

Past records of Indian cities have shown that under mixed traffic conditions, comprising slow and fast moving vehicles, road-based public transportation system can optimally carry around 8,000 people per hour per direction (phpdt). However, once the density of traffic crosses 15,000 phpdt, introduction of a metro rail system becomes unavoidable. Metro rail is a form of mass transit public transport system employing trains. The metro rail system, unlike conventional rail-based systems is separated from the other traffic or provided with separate right of way (ROW) to avoid conflict with other urban transportation networks. In most of the cases, at least a portion of the rails are placed underground (in tunnels), while a major portion remains above ground (elevated). The system is provided in an urban area and is mostly operated by electricity with high capacity and frequency.

Challenges of a Metro system:

Though metro trains are a necessity they come with various challenges of their own. Some of them are like Financial viability of metro projects, over or under-estimation of traffic, Land and property acquisition and resettlement issues, loss of green cover, noise pollution, and
vibration issue.

The financial viability of any metro project greatly depends on the accuracy of traffic demand forecasts and ridership estimation. These forecasts not only provide a technical justification for these projects, but also act as a guide for their socio-economic and environmental appraisal against their projects cost estimates.  However, most of these forecasts have often led to inaccurate or misleading picture about the project, forcing policy makers to take a wrong decision.

In the context of metro rail projects, an over-estimation of the ridership figure has led to an over-sizing and under-utilisation of the infrastructure resources across the world. This has created over-investment in idle capacities and resulted in financial mismanagement or crisis for the project. On the other side, an under-estimation of traffic demand or ridership have led to chaos and inefficiency and ultimately further investment as adding capacity to an existing facility is much more costlier than building the whole capacity in one go.

According to a report by S Gangopadhyay on Indian Metro system, the demand forecasts for metro rail projects in Indian cities have not been accurate. In the first metro rail project in India for the Kolkata metro, the annual passenger volume estimated was 623.7 million trips for the year 2000, however, the actual number of passenger trips on the metro railway during 1999–2000 was only 55.8 million, which is around one-eleventh of the estimated traffic in 1990. Similarly, expected ridership of the Delhi metro rail has been modified several times since the commencement of the project in year 2002. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation had initially expected ridership of metro rail to be 1.5 million passenger trips per day (ppd) for 2005, which was further reduced to 0.7 million ppd by March, 2006. However, the traffic has improved now with increased network of metro in various cities, the gap between projection and reality is still wide.

A data analysis of Metro traffic in seven major cities, including Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Chennai and Mumbai shows that barring Delhi, no other Metro service has a daily footfall of over 1 million. Delhi has a footfall of around 2.5 million. Besides, the average Metro fares per kilometre in India ranges between Rs 1 and Rs 3.5 per km. Mumbai Metro is the most expensive, while Kolkata Metro is the cheapest with an average fare of Rs 0.9 per km .

Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) related Issues:

Metro cities of developing countries throughout the world are densely populated with little availability of land for such mega infrastructure projects. Land acquisition has always been an integral part of any mega infrastructure project. Efforts are always made to minimise the land acquisition as to minimise its socio-economic impacts.  The land acquisition in some areas along the metro corridors sometimes becomes inevitable as no other option related to lower resettlement impact is feasible due to technical reasons.

The issue of land acquisition is a pre-construction phase activity, for which proper socio-economic and R&R surveys need to be carried out to determine the project affected persons. In Delhi, most of the elevated metro corridors are provided along existing roads or the medians of the roads which  are  mostly owned  by  the  government  agencies  so  that  the  various  impacts related to land acquisition are minimum. Providing metro rail corridors on the one side of existing road corridors ensures that there is no or very minimum additional land acquired by using the existing ROW of the road for metro rail corridors.

In the central business district (CBD) areas and archeologically sensitive areas the metro rail corridor goes underground. Many times some land is acquired temporarily for material storage or to facilitate safety during the construction phase, which is returned to the original owners after the construction.

So we can say that land acquisition for metro rail projects is inevitable. However, it should be kept to a minimum by adopting suitable route alignment and by employing the latest construction techniques which reduce the material and land acquisitions and also result in a reduced overall cost of the project, affecting the financial viability of the project.

Property development along Metro Rail Corridors: Property development along the metro rail corridors and metro stations have always been a debatable issue  and  also generated  arguments  both  in  support  as  well  as  against  it.  While many argue that organisations like DMRC in Delhi and similar organisations in other parts of the country, who have been entrusted the job of construction and operation of metro rail system(s), should not be allowed to venture into property development business like any other real estate developers, when the land to these agencies have been given to them at concessional rates. However, metro rail agencies have always argued that the earnings from the property developments have been mandated by the government to finance various on-going projects related to property development. Commercial use of property along the metro corridors is not unique for DMRC in Delhi or any other part of India or even in the world.

As the construction and operating cost of metro rail  projects increase, coupled  with reduced  financial support  from the  government , international agencies, property development  and commercial use of property are the only resources available by which the metro rail projects and their operations can be sustained in the long run.  That too without compromising the main objective of providing a safe, economical and comfortable mode of public transportation, said experts.

Brijesh Dixit, managing director of
Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation, said “MMRCL hopes to earn more than 50 per cent of its total revenue from Nagpur Metro through non-fare box sources. It will be highest-ever in the metro rail segment across the world. We aim to overtake Hong Kong Metro service which is around 42 per cent. We have not waited for launch of services but our earnings have already started. Maha Metro has already earned almost Rs 140 crore through property development initiatives. Metro has earned from the 1 per cent additional surcharge on stamp duty levied by the state government and the earnings through transit-oriented development (TOD) policy,” Dixit said.

Delhi metro too does not need any financial subsidy from the government and derives financial support from its property development programmes. In fact, Phase-I of the Delhi metro had provided 7 per cent of the project cost upfront and 30 per cent of the recurring income. At present, around 25–30 per cent of the annual revenue of the Delhi metro comes  from  commercial  property  developments  in  the  metro  station  complexes,  advertisements  and other commercial activities, which is equal to or even less than other metro rail systems operating in different parts of the world.

The Hong Kong metro which is one of the few profit-making MRTS in whole world has around 35–40 per cent of its revenue coming from such non-operating sources. Any efforts to drastically reduce or bring down the share of non-operating revenue sources from the total income would require further rationalisation of passenger fare structures in such a way that it earns more passengers without compromising the metro ridership and thus passenger revenue growth.

Noise Pollution and Vibration Issues: During the construction phase, the use of heavy machinery and construction equipment may cause vibrations and also increase the ambient noise levels. Vibrations generated during the construction phase may have several adverse impacts, including cracks developed on the surrounding buildings which can have serious implications on the structural safety.

Traffic Issues during Construction Phase: Most of the metro rail corridors, especially elevated corridors are being built along the existing roads or within the existing right of way (ROW) of the roads. As a result, traffic needs to be diverted temporarily or only a narrow width of the existing road is allowed to be used for traffic flow for carrying out construction activities smoothly and to avoid any accident involving construction machinery or equipment. This diversion of road traffic further from the existing road corridors increases the traffic loads on the adjoining roads leading to congestion and traffic jams during peak hours. The situation may be further aggravated during the monsoon season due to water logging problems at the project site. Traffic diversion plans, including barricading of the project site needs to be implemented in consultation with traffic police and local authorities before the start of the construction activities. The public should also be made aware of these diversions/closures well in advance to avoid inconvenience. As per the policy of DMRC in Delhi, the road portion taken over by it temporarily, is returned back to the road owning agency and after the comple-tion of the construction activities and after its complete restoration; sometimes in better conditions than the original road conditions, when it was taken over by metro rail agency.



Metro rail projects take many years to get operational. During initial years, ridership is small as people take some time to change their transportation preference, thus benefits are generally very small during initial years and as the time passes and various teething problems associated with the operation of metro rail are resolved and the reach increases, the ridership also grows. A public transportation system can only be successful if it encourages the commuters to shift from their private vehicles to this system.

A good public transportation system should ideally be a combination of various public transportation systems such as metro rail, mono rail, HCBS, etc. Public transport systems instead of competing with each other should be complimentary to each other. It requires an integrated approach from the design stage itself.  Further, experience gained from similar projects from other countries on various aspects related to construction, operation and environmental management can also be suitably used for any project to ensure that they are environmentally sustainable as well as
socially acceptable.



Nagpur Metro: phase 1 to be fully operational by 2020

Brijesh Dixit,
managing director,
Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation.

The Nagpur Metro Project which went on stream in the first week of March this year has many firsts to its credit — from solar-powered coaches to targeted around 60% non-fare revenues. Brijesh Dixit, managing director of Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation, in an interview with Construction Times said, the company will likely break-even by 2021. Edited Excerpts:

How is the progress after the launch of first few routes in the first phase? How soon will the first phase be ready?

Nagpur Metro Rail project was sanctioned by Government of India (GoI) on 21st August 2014. The project consists of two corridors of North-South & East-West with total length of 38.215 Km and 38 stations under Phase-I. The project is being implemented by Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Limited. The Physical & Financial progress of project is 80 % and 65 % respectively.

  • Nagpur Metro Project was inaugurated by Hon. Prime Minister on 7th March 2019. Commercial operations on the stretch of 13.5 km was launched between Khapri Metro Station and Sitabuldi Interchange Station on 8th March 2019. The first phase is expected to be ready by 2020.
  • The upcoming Nagpur Metro Rail Project is Phase II. It is an extension of the existing North South & East West Corridor of Phase I. The Phase-II DPR has been approved by Government of Maharashtra and has been forwarded to Government of India for technical sanction and approval.
  • The total length to be covered in Phase II is 48.3 km and includes 35 stations (33 Elevated & 2 At Grade). On the other hand, total number of stations in Phase-I is 38 and the distance to be covered is 38.215 km. The Phase-I North-South Corridor stretches from Automotive Square on Northern Side to Khapri Metro Station on Southern side. Similarly, the last Metro Station on the Western side is Lokmanya Nagar and on the eastern is Prajapati Nagar. Thus, the total length of metro rail network in Nagpur after completion of both the phases will be 86.515 km with 73 stations


Do you think the size of rakes are good enough to meet traffic requirements?

Maha Metro Nagpur has deployed three-coach rakes for its operations in Nagpur, against four coaches elsewhere. This is in sync with its requirements as far as project here is concerned. The Metro rakes have some unique features, which add not just to the strength of the coaches, but also enhance the passenger comfort and aesthetic quality. Some of these features of the coaches can be described as follows:

  • These train coaches have higher powering capacity, which allows faster pick-up between stations. The other major highlight of the train would be a special coach for women called ‘Nari Shakti’. The special coach would not just ensure safety for women, but also promise a hassle-free journey.
  • The coaches have Modern design are lightweight and are fully furnished. The coaches run on microprocessor controlled 3-phase induction motor drive having regenerative braking and are suitable for CBTC based automatic train operation (ATO) conforming to Grade of Automation-GOA2.
  • The rolling stock operates on 25kV ac single phase 50 Hz flexible OCS system for elevated and at-grade sections. The trains have 3 Car Composition (DMC-TC-DMC) and 16T axle load. This is the first time in India.
  • The 3-car train (DMC-TC-DMC) has car body of Stainless steel with Modern FRP interior panels for better aesthetics the design speed of the train is 90Kmph and Operation speed is 80Kmph with Passenger capacity of 970 passengers per train. 30 % of the energy consumed by train is returned back to the system due to use of regenerative braking.


By when can we expect both the corridors (East-West and North-South) to be ready for operations?

The entire Nagpur Metro project which covers a distance of 38.215 km and includes 38 stations is expected to be ready by the end of 2019. While the north-south corridor of this project stretches to a distance of 19.985 km and covers 18 stations, the east-west corridor covers a distance of 18.23 km and 20 stations.
Sitabuldi Interchange would serve to be the meeting point for train coming from all the
four directions.

According to DPR what is the ridership projected this year? And in the next five years?

Daily ridership varies from weekdays to weekends. Thus, the average daily ridership from the day of opening 8th March 2019 of Reach 1 stretch of North-South Corridor works out to 2,000 approximately. The projected daily ridership of Nagpur Metro after the entire network is made operational will be 7.70 lakhs in horizon year 2041.


What is the kind of investments we have seen till date for the Metro and what is the total project cost?

Sovereign loan of Rs. 4,521.50 Crore has been tied up with KfW and AfD (KfW 500 Million Euro and AfD 130 Million Euro).


How has been the revenue generation and what are the various business models you are looking at?

While we are confident of meeting our ridership targets and hence expect a decent revenue out of it, we have focussed on Non-Fare Revenue Box. The target is to reach 60 % through Non-Fare Revenue Box concept. The Non-Fare Revenue Box comprises of various components. Some of the features are:

  1. a) Collection of 1% Additional Cess on Stamp Duty on property-related transactions. This way we have generated 149.62 Cr. till 31st March’19.
  2. b) Transit Oriented Development (TOD) along the Nagpur Metro Rail Corridor policy has also helped us in generating income for Maha Metro. We have realised an amount of 11.42 Cr. collected till 31st March’19 for TOD Premium.
  3. c) The two factors – Stamp Duty and TOD Policy have collectively earned Nagpur Metro Project Rs 161.04 crores till th end of last financial year.
  4. d) Property Development along the Nagpur Metro Rail Corridor –
  5. Property Development (PD) on Stand Alone Plots
  6. Property Business (PB) Spaces within the Station Box
  7. e) Semi-Naming Rights at Metro Stations – This unique initiative involves semi-naming of Metro Stations after the business houses or corporate groups. Khapri Metro Station, for example, would be semi-named as ABCD Khapri Metro Station – with the name of the corporate group, ABCD in this case, prefixing the station name. In short, the group will have the right to semi-name Metro Station for a pre-determined period. The group’s logo/signage would be on display with the Metro Station board or placard. And even that’s not all. The group, which has claimed the stations’ semi-naming rights, can play its advertisements on the LCD/LCD screens/panels placed inside the station.
  8. f) Value Capture Financing – Metro is also planning to generate revenue through value capture mechanisms. Maha-Metro has initiated many tenders to capitalize revenue through value capturing. Maha-Metro is receiving good response from Private Sector for the various Value Capture Financing Tools initiated.
  9. g) Licensing of PB Spaces – Metro has planned many Property Business spaces (PBs) within the metro stations. These PBs are planned in such a way that they benefit the Metro commuters by providing one stop solution for their needs. Recently, Maha Metro invited tenders for allotment of PBs to various end users. Maha-Metro has received excellent response for the PBs tenders. The property Business space at Khapri Metro Station, Airport Metro Station and Jai Prakash Nagar Metro Station are allotted to M/s Mother Dairy Fruits and Vegetables Pvt. Ltd. for establishment of their shops/commercial establishment.
  10. h) Advertisements – This would also serve as a good revenue generation source foe Maha Metro.

Also can you talk about the progress of Pune Metro?

  1. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (DMRC) was commissioned by Pune (PMC) and Pune Chinchwad (PCMC) Municipal Corporations for preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR) for about 30 Kms. of Metro networks in the Pune Metropolitan area. A total of 31 Kms Metro corridor is planned to run throughout the city with a motive to connect the north of the city to south and east of the city to west. Pune Metro Rail Project will cover a distance of 31.254 Km over two corridors with one dedicated maintenance depots to each. These depots will be used for stabling of trains, cleaning, schedule inspections, wheel-re-profiling, minor & major repairs as well as Overhauls. Corridor 1, a mix of underground and elevated sections will run from Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation to Swargate covering 16.6 Km with 14 stations and Corridor 2 from Vanaz to Ramwadi covering 14.7 km completely elevated with 16 stations. Stations have been located so as to serve major passenger destinations and to enable convenient integration with other modes of transport. The Pune metro rail alignments are expected to provide much needed connectivity to commuters and will traverse through some of the densest and traffic congested routes in the Pune metropolitan area. It will also serve as environmentally sustainable and an affordable mobility.


Which other projects you are looking at from development point of view?

  1. Other than working Nagpur and Pune metro rail projects, Maha Metro has also been associated with other major projects at state-level. The projects are:

(i)            Running of Broad-gauge Metro Rail services on existing Indian Railway Network – A major project, this would boost transport services in the vicinity of Nagpur district and connect other districts and towns like Wardha, Bhandara, Ramtek and Narkhed. The maximum speed of the broad gauge Metro will be 130 km. Thus, is an express train takes 105 minutes to travel between Nagpur and Wardha, a broad guage metro will take just 70 minutes to travel the same distance. Each train is expect to make 24 trips per day on all four routes.

(ii)           Consultants for Thane Ring Metro Railway involving concept to commissioning – The proposed Metro project which spans the city over a distance of 29 km is circuitous in nature – New Thane to New Thane is its proposed corridor (Ring Corridor). The 29 km long project comprises 26 km elevated and 3 km underground route. In all, 22 stations – 20 elevated and 2 underground stations are proposed in the project.  Thane Metro project route will pass through Dongripada and Thane Junction.

(iii)          Consultants for Nashik Metro Railway for feasibility and preparation of DPR – Maha Metro has been entrusted the task of implementing Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) in the city of Nasik. The Feasibility Report prepared in this regard has identified a 29 km route for the project, connecting major locations of Nasik. The Report has identified two corridors. The Corridor-I connects Shramik Nagar and Nasik Road Railway Station and covers a distance of 19 km, while the Corridor-II links Gangapur & Mumbai Naka and spans a
distance of 10 km.


Infra expansions to boost HVAC demand

Sunil Khatwani,
Bussiness Head- System Aircondition Divi,

Tell us about LG Electronics’ HVAC portfolio in India for the Metro rail segment? 

LG has an extensive range of products for the Metro rail segment, all equipped with green refrigerants. They are: VRF systems (top discharge, side discharge and water-cooled), Chillers (Scroll, Screw, Centrifugal, Magnetic bearing centrifugal, Air bearing centrifugal), Inverter Ducted units, Inverter Rooftop units, Inverter Cassette units – 4 way & 1 way, Inverter Floor standing units, Inverter Room ACs and Split ACs.


How are you planning to capitalise on the expected rise in demand in terms of your product portfolio?

We have introduced unique products to cater to future demand. Some of           them are:

  1. a) High-efficiency air-cooled VRF systems with anti-corrosion coating: The COP of these systems is quite high compared to most of the players in India, making them very attractive for the Metro rail segment with long operating hours. An example of such installations is DMRC metro stations in Delhi NCR.

In addition, the fins of our VRF outdoor units are coated with 2 coatings viz. ‘Ocean Blackfin’ coating to give high corrosion resistance and second, the Hydrophilic coating to provide water resistance.

  1. b) High-efficiency Water-cooled VRF systems are provided with shell and coil condensers, as against plate type, that can be cleaned easily and are ideal for Indian water conditions.
  2. c) Oil-free Magnetic bearing centrifugal chiller: This is an innovative product from LG with a wide capacity range of 260 TR to 2200 TR. Chillers with single compressor are available from 260 TR till 1100 TR and chillers with 2 compressors, in independent circuits, are available from 550 TR till 2200 TR.

The key benefits are:

World Class low power consumption at full and part loads

Oil-free –  longer life and increased reliability Compact size

Lower noise levels: compared to a standard centrifugal chillerHigh reliability with UL rated UPS mounted on every chiller.

(d) Oil-free Air bearing centrifugal chiller: This is another innovative product from LG with a range of 100 TR to 300 TR. This is an oil-free chiller as well, with associated benefits like lower power consumption, longer life, higher reliability, compact size and lower noise levels.


Project execution of HVAC solutions has been a constant issue between HVAC vendors and users/developers. How are you addressing this issue as well as that of maintenance & servicing?

Product companies are generally focussed on sales and service. Installation is left to dealers, with some monitoring by the company. This is the pain point. We have structured ourselves differently.

LG has created a separate Projects vertical within the Product division, to handle direct projects as well as to monitor projects handled by channel partners. The projects team includes senior personnel with MEP experience. This assures the clients about quality and timeliness and provides a true one-stop-shop approach.

After sales service is a separate vertical in LG, with well-defined performance parameters, service is a key focus area for the organisation.


Where are your manufacturing plants located?

We have 2 manufacturing plants in India at Noida and Pune. VRF systems (top discharge, side discharge and water-cooled), Ducted units, Cassette units and Floor standing units are made in Pune. Room AC’s and Split AC’s are manufactured in both the factories.

We are the only company with a NABL certified laboratory for all systems up to VRF systems.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *