On a Growth Path: Robust pipeline of metro rail projects

Robust pipeline of metro rail projects

Commuters in Indian cities are increasingly opting for urban mass transit systems as the preferred mode of transportation. This has acted as a catalyst for the development of several new metro projects and the extension of existing routes. At present, a metro rail network of about 515 km is operational in 10 cities and over 1,800 km of new metro lines are at various stages of implementation in Tier I, II and III cities. This represents a huge pipeline of projects, which if developed according to plan will help ease congestion on city roads.

The uptake and expansion of rail-based projects will offer several business opportunities across different segments – rolling stock, civil construction, electrical works, tracks, signalling and telecommunications, intelligent transportation systems, fare systems, etc. The enthusiastic response by private players and the successful execution of projects in each of these segments indicate a strong business case for them.

The government has been actively supporting rail-based projects. While this has helped cities initiate projects, issues relating to acquisition of land, shifting of utilities, etc. continue to impede execution.

Key ongoing projects

The metro rail network in the country is steadily increasing with several metro projects with multiple corridors being developed every year. While some projects have already been completed and have added to the existing network, there are others which are currently at different stages of development. One such project is the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar metro rail system which comprises two corridors with a total length of 40 km. Both the corridors have a mix of elevated and underground sections that are being developed at an estimated cost of Rs 107 billion. Of the total project cost, about Rs 31.16 billion has already been invested in the past four years (2014-18). At present, the stretch from Vastral Gam to Apparel Park, which is a priority corridor, is in the final stages of development and trial runs on the stretch are expected to be undertaken by January 2019. The entire project is expected to be fully operationalised by 2020.

Another big-ticket project, Bengaluru metro, Phase II, is currently under implementation. It is an extension of the four reaches that were developed under Phase I of the project and the development of two new lines – Reach 5 (R.V. Road to Bommasandra) and Reach 6 (Gottigere to Nagawara). In all, there are six stretches with 72.1 km of track laying work and 61 stations to be developed at a cost of Rs 264.05 billion. Construction on five of the six stretches has already commenced while work on Reach 6 is yet to start. By 2020, two lines – Mysuru Road to Kengeri (Reach 2) and Yelachenahalli to Anjapura Township (Reach 4) – will be operationalised and the remaining stretches are expected to be completed by 2021.

Some of the other metro projects that are currently under implementation are the Lucknow metro project (33.97 km; an 8.5 km stretch is already operational) which is scheduled to be completed by April 2019, and Navi Mumbai metro, Phase I (11.1 km), which is expected to be commissioned by April 2020.

The 33.5 km Mumbai metro, Line 3, comprising the Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ stretch, is being developed by the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation at a cost of Rs 290 billion. At present, tunnelling works are in progress and the project is expected to be completed by March 2021. Besides, Kochi metro (36.78 km), Hyderabad metro (72 km), Kolkata East-West metro (16.6 km), Delhi metro, Phase III (the remaining 38 km), Nagpur metro (about 42 km) and Chennai metro, Phase I extension (9.05 km), are other projects that are expected to be fully completed during 2019 and 2020.

Key awarded projects

  • Hinjewadi to Shivaji Nagar metro line: The 23.3 km long Hinjewadi-Shivaji Nagar line in Pune is one of the key projects in the pipeline. The project, worth Rs 83.13 billion, is being developed as Line 3 of the Pune metro rail project. This fully elevated stretch will be executed on a public-private partnership (PPP) basis. In October 2018, the contract for the project was awarded to a consortium of the Tata Group and Siemens Project Ventures GmbH. Construction work on the stretch is scheduled to commence by June 2019 and will be completed by April 2021.
  • Bhopal and Indore metros, Phase I: In October 2018, the central government approved the development of two projects in Madhya Pradesh – the Bhopal and Indore metro rail, Phase I projects. Both the projects are being implemented by Madhya Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation Limited. Under the Bhopal metro project, two corridors of 27.87 km – the Karond to AIIMS and Bhadbhada to Ratnagiri Tiraha corridors – will be developed at an estimated investment of Rs 69.41 billion. The metro system in Indore involves the development of only one corridor of 31.55 km – Bengali Square-Patasia-Bengali Square – at a cost of Rs 69.62 billion. The bids for both the projects were invited in June 2018 and Dilip Buildcon Limited emerged as the lowest bidder. Recently, on November 2, 2018, Dilip Buildcon signed contracts valued at Rs 2.47 billion and Rs 2.29 billion for the Bhopal and Indore metro rail projects respectively. Work on both the projects is expected to commence by early 2019 and they are scheduled to be completed in four years.

Under-bidding projects

  • Kanpur metro, Phase I: The detailed project report (DPR) for Phase I of the Kanpur metro rail system was approved in January 2018. Thereafter, Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation Limited (LMRC) was appointed as the interim consultant to take up the bidding process and preliminary construction works for the project. About 32.3 km of rail line will be laid under the project at an estimated cost of Rs 183.42 billion. Of the entire length, Line I from IIT Kanpur to Moti Jheel, approximately 8 km with nine elevated stations, will be taken up on a priority basis. In February 2018, bids were invited for the construction of the elevated viaduct and nine stations. Currently, the bids are under evaluation. Meanwhile, LMRC is awaiting a no-objection certificate from the central government to commence work on the stretch.
  • Visakhapatnam light rail transit (LRT) project: The Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (VUDA) has proposed the development of an LRT system in the city. The project involves laying a rail line of 42.52 km at a cost of Rs 80 billion on a PPP basis. The Amaravati Metro Rail Corporation (AMRC), the special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the project, will have a 50 per cent stake, while a major portion of the remaining will be held by the selected concessionaire and VUDA will have a nominal capital share. Bids for the project were invited in September 2017 and five firms have evinced interest in developing the LRT system. These are Adani Enterprises Limited, Essel Infraprojects Limited, IL&FS Rail Limited, Shapoorji Pallonji and Company Private Limited, and Tata Realty and Infrastructure Limited. The contract is yet to be awarded and the AMRC is expected to finalise the bidder by February 2019. The foundation stone for the project is likely to be laid by March 2019.

Approved and announced metro projects

To ensure last-mile connectivity, several metro projects have been approved for execution in Tier II and Tier III cities. For instance, in January 2018, the central government approved the DPRs of the Agra and Meerut metro projects in Uttar Pradesh. In Agra, two metro corridors are to be developed at a cost of Rs 130 billion and the 33 km long corridor in Meerut will be constructed at a cost of over Rs 138 billion. Another project, Delhi metro, Phase IV, has finally received approval from the finance department for three of the six proposed corridors – Janakpuri West-R.K. Ashram (28.92 km), Mukundpur-Maujpur (12.54 km) and Lajpat Nagar-Saket G Block (7.96 km).

Recently, on October 9, 2018, the Bihar government approved the DPR of the Patna metro rail project.  The 31 km metro rail system will be developed by an SPV – Patna Metro Rail Corporation Limited – at an estimated cost of Rs 178.87 billion. The DPR will be forwarded to the central government for approval soon. Meanwhile, other projects which are on the anvil are the Surat metro, Dehradun-Haridwar-Rishikesh metro, Vijayawada LRT, Guwahati metro and Varanasi metro. These projects are currently in the early stage of development and are awaiting the necessary approvals.

The Tamil Nadu government has also planned the development of Phase II of Chennai metro at an investment of Rs 800 billion. A huge part of the investment will be provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the remaining will be shared between the state and central government. As part of the project, three corridors covering a route length of 108 km will be developed with 116 stations en route.

Though approval by the central government is yet to be granted, preliminary works such as soil testing have already commenced.


India has emerged as one of the biggest markets for rail-based transportation systems and with the completion of about 500 km under-implementation projects the country will have one of the largest metro rail systems in the world. The market will further expand with the execution of around 1,300 km metro lines, which are currently in the planning stage. As the market expands, global as well as local players will increase participation across different segments, thus ensuring the uptake of modern and advanced technology solutions.