Views of S.S. Joshi: “We operate the longest metro rail network in India”

“We operate the longest metro rail network in India”

At a recent conference on “Urban Rail Systems in APAC” organised by India Infrastructure, S.S. Joshi, director, rolling stock and signalling, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), spoke about the issues faced by the DMRC in the rolling stock, signalling and automated fare collection (AFC) segments as well as the opportunities presented by the Metro Rail Policy, 2017. Excerpts…

A long way since 2002

Around 575 km of metro rail networks are operational in 11 Indian cities, of which the DMRC operates 327 km. The corporation’s operational network will soon increase to 350 km. Initially, the Delhi Metro was undertaken as a pilot project and received full financial support, as it was the first metro rail project in the country.

The success of the Delhi Metro increased the popularity of the concept of metro rail systems in India and now various cities are planning to join the metro bandwagon. Due to funding shortages, the government has mandated private participation under the new Metro Rail Policy, 2017.

The first three phases of the Delhi Metro have been developed through government and multilateral funding. The recent policy changes will allow participation by private players in Phase IV funding.

Present focus and sustainability targets

Along with the expansion of metro systems, the DMRC is also focusing on cutting costs through innovation and technology, such as condition monitoring, maintenance and asset management, as well as taking initiatives to reduce the carbon footprint. The majority of the construction work under Phase III has been given a platinum rating by the Indian Green Building Council.

The DMRC has commissioned 20 MW of solar energy projects and is targeting the implementation of a 50 MW solar photovoltaic system on flat/curved roofs of the DMRC’s stations (both existing and upcoming), train depots and other buildings by 2021. In addition, the DMRC is also procuring electricity from offsite solar power plants, with a capacity of 500 MW, located in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. By 2021, around one-third of the DMRC’s energy requirement will be met through solar energy.

DMRC’s initiatives under the new Metro Rail Policy, 2017

Most metro rail projects in the country have been financed by the central government in partnership with state governments, while some have been funded by the state governments, either on their own or through private partnerships. The new Metro Rail Policy, 2017, aims at tapping alternative and innovative funding sources to supplement the budgetary resources committed to the development of metro rail systems. The policy seeks to ensure that project proposals are prepared and appraised in a comprehensive manner to enhance urban mobility.

Further, the new policy has mandated private participation as well as stated standardised technical parameters for infrastructure systems (including rolling stock). The DMRC has planned or has taken the initiative to promote private participation for projects to be taken up in the future.

Rolling stock

In April 2017, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) announced new mandatory conditions and standardised norms for the procurement of rolling stock, related critical equipment, subsystems and signalling systems for metro rail projects.

As per the new conditions, a minimum of 75 per cent of the tendered quantity of metro cars will have to be manufactured indigenously, with progressive indigenisation of content, for which the contractor may either establish an independent manufacturing facility in the country or enter into a partnership with Indian manufacturers.

The MoHUA has standardised the body of train coaches into two categories: rolling stock width of 3.2 metres and 2.9 metres. The configuration of trains has been fixed to three-car, six-car and nine-car. In addition, the maximum operational speed has been standardised at 80 km per hour and the maximum design speed has been fixed at 90 km per hour. The interior and exterior designs can be modified by the implementing agencies.

In November 2018, the MoHUA approved the DMRC’s proposal to allow private operators to operate trains on Phase IV of the Delhi Metro and provide compensation on a per km basis. The DMRC plans to procure 300 metro coaches on a lease basis through the public-private partnership (PPP) model.

In September 2017, the DMRC floated an expression of interest (EoI) to procure 100 cars for Delhi Metro, Line 5, on a gross cost contract basis. In March 2019, the corporation shortlisted 11 applicants from the EoI stage to participate in the request for proposal stage. Under the gross cost contract, the supplier/operator is paid an agreed fixed sum for the duration of the contract. The last date for the submission of proposals is March 26, 2019. Further, the DMRC has floated some tenders to outsource its operations and maintenance (O&M) activities. These tenders are being floated on a pilot basis. If the trials are successful, then the DMRC plans to invite bids for the majority of the Phase IV contracts as O&M contracts. In February 2019, it launched tenders to procure electric buses as well as provide O&M for them.

Signalling

The continuous automatic train control system based on the communication-based train control (CBTC) system will be deployed for signalling on all metro rail projects for the movement of trains between stations. The CBTC system will be based on moving block technology and will be capable of providing bidirectional movement. Further, the design of the automatic train supervision (ATS) subsystem will be such that the ATS core and non-core functions are physically and logically separable.

NITI Aayog has sanctioned a project for the indigenous development of CBTC systems. If the project is successful, then the implementation and upgradation cost will be significantly reduced for transit authorities.

The Delhi Metro has been in operation since 2002 and hence some sections need refurbishment. In addition, the corporation is also facing problems of interoperability, especially when the extension of an existing line is planned. The DMRC plans to upgrade its signalling system in line with the new policy.

AFC system

The National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) programme supports the development of one card for all payments, including retail, transit, para-transit and smart cities. The NCMC will be an EMV-based open-loop bank card, which will integrate transport fare payment through a single ticketing mechanism for all modes of public transport in the country.

The Delhi Metro has an average daily ridership of more than 3 million passengers and around 12 million passengers use the smartcard. The network deploys around 3,000 automatic fare collection gates, which are supplied by Thales, Samsung and Indra. To support the government’s One Nation One Card scheme, the DMRC has invited EoIs to upgrade the existing fare collection system to an open-loop system based on the PPP model.

Further, the concept trial of the NCMC card has begun on the Delhi Metro network, in collaboration with the State Bank of India. The MoHUA has developed the NCMC in collaboration with the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, the National Payments Corporation of India, and Bharat Electronics Limited.

The way forward

The DMRC has deployed the country’s first driverless metro train. As a precaution for the unattended train operation mode, it has deployed platform screen doors (PSDs) to barricade the tracks and avoid accidents. Around 4,000 PSDs are deployed on three lines – Lines 7, 8 and Airport Express – of the Delhi Metro. Further, the DMRC has provided 1,000 PSDs for the Noida-Greater Noida network. The corporation will deploy PSDs on the busy stations of the Delhi Metro (such as Rajiv Chowk and Kashmere Gate) as well as Mumbai Metro, Lines 2 and 7.

In addition, the DMRC plans to deploy digitalised means for asset management and condition monitoring of its network as well as for analysing passenger preferences through big data management for improving services.