Trends and Outlook: Strong project pipeline bodes well for the sector

Strong project pipeline bodes well for the sector

A well-planned urban transportation system is critical for a city’s competitiveness. However, the biggest challenge faced by Indian cities pertains to public transport. Existing transport services like buses and metro rails are not only overcrowded and inconvenient, but have limited coverage. Many cities do not even have a basic public bus transport system. Further, the increased use of private modes of transport has resulted in greater air pollution and congestion on the roads.

But the situation is beginning to change with cities developing mass rapid transit (MRT) systems, both bus and rail. In the past two-three years, metro rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) projects have been conceptualised and implemented in many cities. New technologies are being explored in the areas of fare payment systems, vehicle tracking, passenger information systems, etc. Further, a dedicated metro policy is currently under formulation. The new policy framework primarily aims to rekindle private sector participation, facilitate innovative financing and improve project appraisal procedures. Besides, the government is continuously providing financial assistance to states for upgrading and expanding their urban transport systems.

Indian Infrastructure presents a snapshot of the recent trends and sector outlook…

Key trends

  • The country’s current operational network of urban rail systems is over 343 km. At present, metro projects are operational in Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Chennai, Kochi and Mumbai. Further, BRT systems have been operationalised in 10 cities covering a total length of over 250 km. These are Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bhopal, Indore, Jaipur, Naya Raipur, Pimpri Chinchwad, Pune, Rajkot and Surat.
  • Over the past year or so, progress in the two principal modes of urban transportation – bus and rail-based systems – has not been the same. Despite several initiatives, including improving city bus services, procuring modern buses, using the latest technology for fare collection and promoting integrated transport, the urban bus segment has very few successful projects to showcase.
  • Between January 2016 and May 2017, over 90 km of BRT network has been added. Some of the key BRT corridors inaugurated during the period were the 31 km Amritsar BRT system, the 2.2 km stretch of the Naya Raipur BRT (State Secretariat-Central Business District) and the 14 km Yerwada-Wagholi Corridor of the Pune BRT project.
  • On the other hand, the urban rail-based segment saw several significant developments. During the period under consideration (January 2016 to May 2017), about 92 km of metro network has been commissioned or completed. The highest addition of 17.9 km was on account of the commissioning of three stretches under Chennai Metro, Phase I – the Little Mount-Chennai Airport (8.6 km), Alandur-St Thomas Mount (1.28 km) and Koyambedu-Nehru Park (8 km). Further, the Heritage Line (ITO-Kashmere Gate) under Delhi Metro, Phase III, was operationalised in May 2017. Recently, in June 2017, the 13 km Aluva-Palarivattom stretch of Kochi Metro, Phase I, was operationalised. In addition, two metro rail projects – the Hyderabad Metro and the Mumbai Monorail – witnessed the completion of construction works on 30 km. Besides, at least 698 km of network length has received either central or state approval.
  • Advanced technologies and solutions are being adopted for fare collection, signalling and telecommunications. The under-construction Nagpur metro rail project is developing a common mobility card enabling seamless travel by various modes of transport. The Janakpuri West-Botanical Garden stretch of the Delhi Metro will run on the communication-based train control system, which will allow driverless train operations. A similar system has been deployed for the Hyderabad metro rail project.

Sector outlook

  • As per the High Powered Expert Committee Report on Urban Infrastructure and Services (March 2011), the long-term investment requirements (until 2031) for the urban transport sector are estimated at Rs 7.5 trillion.
  • Operational metro systems are currently being expanded and new systems are also coming up. The sector offers a lucrative pipeline of over 100 corridors/stretches (1,976 km) entailing an investment of over Rs 6.4 trillion.
  • In the urban bus segment, at least 10 new BRT projects (475 km) entailing an investment of over Rs 65 billion are either under implementation or are in the planning stage.
  • Over the next three to four years, India’s urban transport sector is expected to witness considerable activity. The demand for urban rail and BRT systems as efficient modes to address mobility requirements will increase with the rising number of urban centres and growing population. Advanced technology solutions and models amenable to Indian conditions will be promoted and implemented. Public funds will continue to be the preferred source for funding urban transport projects. Going forward, the uptake and expansion of urban transport projects will offer business opportunities across different segments – rolling stock, civil construction, electrical work, tracks, signalling and intelligent transportation systems, fare systems, etc.