New Opportunities: Attracting new players and cutting-edge technologies

Attracting new players and cutting-edge technologies

Indian metro systems are swiftly moving towards standard gauge rolling stock with advanced signalling and control systems, passenger information systems, and integrated security systems. The rapid expansion of the metro rail network is increasing the demand for rolling stock. At present, a total of about 4,120 metro coaches have been operationalised/awarded and the market size is set to increase further with the development of new metro projects and expansion of existing lines. Also, light rail projects in Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam and metro projects in Bhopal, Indore, Patna, Agra, Meerut and Kanpur which are on the anvil will create huge market opportunity for rolling stock manufacturers. To capitalise on this opportunity, new players are vying with each other to enter the rolling stock market, which is currently dominated by a few global players.

At the same time, the ridership of urban mass transit systems is also expanding rapidly and manufacturers are taking measures to make metro rail coaches more passenger friendly. The introduction of lightweight stainless steel bogies and the availability of new features such as Wi-Fi, USB charging ports, redesigned grab handles and digital route maps, and the shift from semi-automatic to driverless trains are some of the recent advancements. However, the use of advanced technologies has increased the price of coaches. Meanwhile, funding of metro rail projects continues to be a major challenge. Thus, metro rail corporations are exploring new models such as operation of coaches on a lease basis. This is a new public-private partnership model, which is being tested for the first time by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

Expanding metro coach market

With the rapid development of metro projects in the country, the operational rolling stock too is increasing. The total fleet under operation has increased at a compound annual growth rate of 8.9 per cent during the five-year period 2013 to 2017. Orders for the procurement of 384 new coaches were awarded in the past 18 months. In 2018, two new contracts – 248 coaches for Mumbai Metro, Line 3, and 40 additional railcars for the Chennai Metro Extension Project – were awarded to Alstom. Besides, tenders for procuring 378 metro coaches for Mumbai Metro, Lines 2A, 2B and 7, were invited and are expected to be awarded soon. Pune Metro, Phase I, which is currently under construction, requires a total of 102 coaches. Bids have already been invited and the last date for bid submission is November 30, 2018.

The fleet of the Bengaluru and Delhi metro projects is also being doubled to accommodate the rapidly increasing ridership. Currently, three-coach trains ply on Bengaluru metro, and this is being expanded to six-coach trains. The DMRC is also expanding the existing four-coach trains to six-coach and six-coach trains to eight-coach on its busy routes. The DMRC has recently invited two bids, one  for 40 broad gauge cars and the other for 80 broad gauge cars with December 12, 2018 and December 19, 2018, respectively, as the last dates for bid submission.

Further, bids for procuring 350 metro coaches for Mumbai Metro, Phase II (Lines 4, 5 and 6), and 324 coaches for Chennai Metro, Phase II, are expected to be invited by 2020. The demand for rolling stock is set to expand further in the near future with the recent award of civil contracts for the Bhopal and Indore metro projects and Pune Metro, Line III (Hinjewadi-Shivajinagar stretch) project and the approval of detailed project reports for the Agra, Meerut and Kanpur metro projects.

Major players

There are eight major players supplying rolling stock for metro systems in the country. These are Hyundai Rotem, Alstom, Bombardier, BEML, Mitsubishi, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles, CSR Zhuzhou and the Integral Coach Factory. Most of these are foreign players. Domestic suppliers such as BEML have entered the market through technology transfer arrangements with global players. Two new players, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Hitachi, are also expected to enter the rolling stock market. While Kawasaki Heavy Industries is partnering with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited to make stainless steel coaches for metro trains, Hitachi has bid for rolling stock tenders individually. Titagarh Wagons is also planning to enter the market.

Technology advancements

To improve efficiency and the passenger experience, several advancements in metro coaches have been introduced. For instance, to minimise human intervention, unattended/automated

driverless operations have been introduced on Delhi Metro’s Magenta Line. The same technology will also be introduced on Mumbai Metro, Lines 2A, 2B and 7, for which 378 coaches are being manufactured by Alstom. Besides, most of the operational metro rail coaches are deployed with features such as higher acceleration, lightweight stainless steel bodies, LCD screens for route maps, mobile and laptop charging sockets, spacious seating, and regenerative electric braking to reduce carbon emissions.


The expanding metro rail network across the country is creating huge opportunities in the rolling stock market. The Make in India initiative and other strategic tie-ups through technology transfer agreements will open up new opportunities for global as well as domestic manufacturers. However, funding of coaches remains a major hurdle for which new models will have to be explored and adopted. Also, there is a need to set up more metro railcar manufacturing facilities in the country as domestic companies have begun to indigenously design, manufacture and supply coaches for metro rail systems.