Hyderabad Metro Opens

First stretches witness record ridership

Hyderabad metro commenced operations on a 30 km stretch from Miyapur to Ameerpet (Line 1) and from Nagole to Ameerpet (Line 3) covering 24 stations on November 28, 2017.

The project is the world’s largest public private partnership (PPP) urban rail project, being developed in partnership between Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and the Andhra Pradesh government. In July 2012, L&T secured the concession for the project for a period of 35 years (with an option to extend it by another 25 years). Upon completion of this period, the assets will be transferred to the state government. France-based Keolis SA is responsible for operations and maintenance of the project.

Project details

Phase I of the project involves the development of three corridors, which will together span 71.69 km and cover 66 stations on an elevated alignment.

There three corridors will be:

  • Corridor 1 (Stages 2 and 5) will span 29.21 km from Miyapur to LB Nagar, covering 27 stations.
  • Corridor 2 (Stage 6) will span 15.19 km from JBS to Falaknuma, covering 16 stations.
  • Corridor 3 (Stages 1, 3 and 4) will span 27.28 km from Nagole to Shilparamam, covering 23 stations.

In November 2017, service started on Corridor 1 Stage 2 (12.2 km from Miyapur to Ameerpet, 11 stations) and Corridor 3 Stages 1 and 3 (17.6 km from Nagole to Ameerpet, 13 stations). A feeder bus service is planned for all metro stations.

As per the Phase I plan, the following extensions are yet to be developed.

  • Corridor I: Stage 5 (17.31 km, 17 stations).
  • Corridor II: Stage 6 (10.11 km, 9 stations).
  • Corridor III: Stage 4 (11.03 km, 10 stations).

Plans for Phase 2 have also been unveiled. This phase will cover a total of around 83 km and comprise at least one new line and four extensions as follows:

  • New line from Tarnaka to Electronics Corporation of India Limited (7 km).
  • Corridor I extensions from LB Nagar to Hayathnagar (7 km) and from Miyapur to Patancheru (13 km).
  • Corridor II extensions connecting Nagole, LB Nagar, Falaknuma and Shamshabad Airport (28 km) and connecting Raidurg, Gachibowli and Shamshabad Airport (28 km).

The metro system will have a carrying capacity of 60,000 passengers per trip during peak hours. In the first year of operations, it is expected to carry 1.75 million passengers per day.

Financial closure

The project achieved financial closure in April 2011. Of the total project cost of Rs 163.78 billion, the debt component is Rs 114.8 billion (funded by a consortium of banks) and the equity component (funded by the L&T Group) is Rs 34.4 billion. The central government, through the Andhra Pradesh government, has contributed Rs 14.58 billion as viability gap funding (VGF); the funding was approved by a committee headed by the secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, in May 2013.

L&T plans to invest Rs 50 billion-Rs 60 billion on civil construction, Rs 20 billion on developing 551,000 square metres of real estate, Rs 16 billion on trains and Rs 10 billion on signalling systems. In July 2013, L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Limited began discussions with India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited to raise Rs 10 billion for the project through the external commercial borrowing route. 

Operations

The metro system is witnessing an average daily ridership of 100,000 passengers. Nearly 2 million passengers have travelled on the metro system in the first three weeks of operations.

So far, 18 three-car trains have been deployed by a consortium led by South Korea-based Hyundai Rotem Company and India-based public sector undertaking BEML Limited under a contract secured in 2012.The consortium will supply 57 three-car train sets in total for Phase 1.

Each car has a capacity of 330 passengers. The stainless steel prototype is 22 metres long and 2.9 metres wide, and has a maximum speed of 80 km per hour and an average speed of 40 km per hour. The cars will be equipped with interior and exterior CCTV cameras, power sockets (for charging laptops and mobile phones) and LED passenger information displays.

Service frequency at present is 14-15 minutes with trains operating at an average speed of 22 km per hour on the Nagole-Begumpet stretch, and eight minutes on the Ameerpet-Miyapur stretch with trains operating at an average speed of 30 km per hour. Train services are from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Tracks are standard gauge (1,435 mm) and comprise continuously welded rails to minimise noise levels. In January 2013, India-based Tata Corus secured a $28.16 million contract to supply steel rails from its unit in France. Power will be sourced from the overhead catenary (25 kV AC, 50 Hz).

The system is equipped with Thales’ SelTrac communications-based train control (CBTC) solution. CBTC allows for driverless/unattended train operations. However, the trains will initially be operated by a driver.

Fares range between Rs 10 (for a distance of up to 2 km) and Rs 60 (for a distance of more than 26 km). Samsung Data Systems India, a subsidiary of Korean firm Samsung, has supplied the automatic fare collection (AFC) system. Smart cards are being used for fare payment on the metro rail. The cards will also be used for retail purchases at metro stations, fuel stations and other services, and can be purchased using cash or debit/credit cards and reloaded online or by an automatic top-up from a customer’s bank account, ATMs or mobile phones.

In November 2017, a mobile app, Tsavari, was introduced to provide transport information about all modes of transport in the city. Passengers using the app will get an update on the nearest bus stops and live information on bus frequency. In addition, Tsavari is also integrated with Ola Cab services including Ola Money. The integration will allow metro passengers to recharge their metro smart cards directly from the Ola Money app.

Challenges abound

L&T has announced a delay in project completion due to viability concerns. Service start date for Phase 1 has been pushed to December 2018 from July 2017. The delay has increased the cost of the project from over Rs 14.1 billion to an estimated Rs 18.8 billion.

More recently, a 6 km stretch on Corridor 2 connecting the metro system to the old city area is facing political issues. It is expected that while Corridor 2 has been planned to be operationalised next year, the 6 km stretch will remain incomplete.

A final word

There aren’t many success stories of PPPs in urban rail in the world. Projects typically face issues related to viability and revenues. However, it seems that L&T has done its homework. While planning for the project, emphasis has been laid on transit-oriented development and the use of stations as commercial/retail spaces to increase non-fare revenue. The numbers related to non-fare revenue are yet to be released. As such, it remains to be seen whether or not the biggest PPP urban rail project will also become the most successful PPP project in the world.

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