In order to ease their mobility woes, 11 cities have planned greenfield metro rail projects. Cities such as Jammu, Srinagar, Bhubaneswar, Coimbatore, Gorakhpur and Guwahati have announced plans to implement metro projects whereas works have already been awarded in Pune, Indore and Bhopal. On the back of increasing demand, cities that already have operational metro rail systems have planned expansions.
A look at the key upcoming projects in the metro rail segment…
Currently, there are 664 km of operational metro rail networks in 13 cities, with more than half the length being in Delhi (347 km). Overall, about 2,500 km of rail network is expected to be added by 2025-26 in various cities.
Work on the Delhi metro, Phase IV project is scheduled to begin by end November this year. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has awarded the first civil contract of Phase IV for the construction of a portion of the Janakpuri West-RK Ashram Marg corridor to KEC International, at an estimated cost of Rs 8.96 billion. The work involves the design and construction of an elevated viaduct, an elevated ramp, a siding line and station buildings. The 28.92 km long corridor is an extension of the Magenta Line and will have 22 stations.
The Karnataka government has decided to extend the network of the Bengaluru metro from 119 km to 300 km at a huge cost of Rs 306.95 billion. Phase II of the project, which is expected to be completed by 2021, involves the expansion of the existing 43 km metro rail network (Phase I) by another 76 km at a cost of Rs 264.05 billion. The state government has decided to approach the central government for its equity share and approvals to fast-track Phase III. At present, metro services on the East-West and North-South routes serve about 500,000 people on the 43 km route, easing pressure on the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation’s (BMTC) bus service plying across the city. The government has also decided to hire about 6,000 buses to be operated by the BMTC to further promote public transport in the city. The Bengaluru Mobility Management Authority will be set up soon to regulate and maintain traffic of buses, and metro and suburban rail services across the city.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is planning to commence trial runs for the Mumbai metro, Line 2A and Line 7 during July-August 2020. The authority is working simultaneously on 13 metro corridors of the Mumbai metro rail project. Of these, the 18.6 km Line 2A stretches from Dahisar West to D.N. Nagar and the 16.5 km Line 7 stretches from Andheri East to Dahisar East. The distance covered by both the lines will be 35.1 km and will have an approximate daily ridership of 1.57 million. Line 2A and Line 7 are being built at a cost of Rs 64.1 billion and Rs 62.08 billion respectively. The MMRDA has secured loans worth Rs 28.03 billion and Rs 22.46 billion for Lines 2A and 7, respectively, from the Asian Development Bank through the debt financing route.
Another major upcoming metro rail project is the Kolkata East-West metro project. The trial runs for the first phase are being undertaken for the signalling system, alignment of trains at the platform, synchronisation of the platform screen and other technicalities. The East-West metro project is being implemented by Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Limited. However, the service will be operated by Metro Railway, Kolkata. The 5 km first phase of the East-West metro stretches between Salt Lake Sector V and Salt Lake Stadium and has six stations. The cost of the project has been revised to Rs 85.75 billion, from the initial cost of Rs 48.74 billion calculated 11 years ago. One of the key reasons for the cost escalation is realignment of the route.
Among the metro rail projects approved by the Uttar Pradesh government in Agra, Meerut and Kanpur in January 2018, the foundation stone for the Kanpur metro has been laid. On February 28, 2019, the central government approved the metro project for Kanpur at an estimated cost of Rs 110 billion. The civil works for building nine metro stations of the Kanpur metro rail project have been awarded to Afcons Infrastructure Limited. In the coming years, a number of other cities apart from the ones approved will get metro systems, Metro systems in Meerut, Gorakhpur and Varanasi are at various stages of planning. The state government has released Rs 2 billion to the Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation for commencing metro construction work in Agra and Kanpur.
Further, the Nagpur metro has received clearance from the National Highways Authority of India for constructing the country’s first four-layer transport system, at a cost of Rs 5.73 billion. The proposed four-layer structure is planned to come up on Kamptee Road in Nagpur. The structure is part of the Reach-II segment of the Nagpur metro rail project which stretches from the Sitabuldi Interchange station to the Automotive Square station. The total length of the flyover to be constructed is 5.3 km.
With a number of upcoming metro rail projects in the country, a new segment being explored is the water metro. India’s first water metro project (in Kerala) has received environmental clearance from the central government, paving the way for the infrastructure project to come up in Kochi. The project, worth Rs 8.19 billion, will provide better connectivity from the mainland area to islands around Kochi. A joint venture firm of the central and Kerala governments, Kochi Metro Rail Limited, has been selected as the implementing agency for the project. The Kochi water metro project will have 16 identified routes in Kochi providing connectivity to 38 terminals across 10 islands. Kochi is the first city in the country to have water transport serving as a feeder service to the metro. The proposed water metro project aims to provide easy access to scenic islands around mainland Kochi and enhance overall employment opportunities.
At present, there are a number of metro rail projects at various stages of planning. The feasibility study of the Coimbatore metro project has recently been completed whereas metro plans have been announced for the cities of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Gorakhpur and Guwahati. Jammu and Srinagar are also expected to have metro trains within four years. Besides, six metro projects have received approvals from the central/state governments.
With regard to the upcoming bus rapid transit (BRT) stretches, as of October 2019, there are about 225 km of projects involving a total investment of over Rs 60 billion. Of these, the largest project in terms of length is the Chennai BRT, Phase I project, with a planned investment of Rs 11 billion. The planned route covers around 120 km with lanes between 30 metres and 60 metres depending upon land availability. The Chennai BRT will need to add a special fleet of around 2,000 BRT-compatible buses, costing less than a tenth of the first phase of the Chennai metro rail. Once implemented, the planned 120 km network is expected to serve 2 million passengers per day. The key characteristics of the upcoming BRT project in Chennai are dedicated bus lanes for rapid travel, step-less access through wide automated doors between stations and buses for passenger convenience, and a host of other intelligent features. A BRT system is the best of both worlds, incorporating the flexibility and affordability of buses with the efficiency and quality of metro rail.
The way forward
The increasing number of metro projects and other mass transit projects have attracted attention from infrastructure majors, with Adani Enterprises recently setting up a subsidiary to focus primarily on metro rail projects. Greater participation by the private sector and approval of projects by the government will go a long way in ensuring better public transport availability through timely execution of projects.