Surge in Demand: Rolling stock market receives a strong impetus from the line-up of urban rail projects

Rolling stock market receives a strong impetus from the line-up of urban rail projects

The market size of the rolling stock segment in the urban rail sector has almost doubled between 2014 and 2020 on ac­count of the newly commissioned stretches and increased demand from the existing operational systems. In terms of value, the rolling stock market has increased from Rs 52 billion in 2008 to over Rs 420 billion as of January 2021. The standardisation and indigenisation of the urban rail system is a key subject taken up by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to further drive the Make in India initiative and enable fast delivery of projects.

In April 2017, MoHUA issued guidelines on rolling stock standardisation norms as well as new mandatory conditions for the indigenisation of rolling stock. These mandatory conditions are to be incorporated in tender documents for procurement of metro cars and related critical equipment/subsystems indigenously. As a result, both foreign and domestic players have stepped up indigenous production.

Recent trends and developments

With the experience gained in manufacturing, integration and testing of metro cars, BEML Limited has expanded its role in the metro business and is commanding a good market share in India. In January 2021, the government un­veil­ed the first driverless coach for the Mumbai Metro manufactured by BEML under the Make in India initiative. The indigenously developed me­tro cars will be supplied to the Mumbai Met­ro­politan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) up to January 2024.

Indian Railways itself, through its Integral Co­ach Factory (ICF), Chennai and Modern Co­a­­ch Factory (MCF), Rae Bareilly, has started pro­ducing metro rail coaches. The coaches pro­du­ced by the ICF and MCF are significantly cheaper by Rs 30 million-Rs 40 million than foreign-ma­nufactured coaches. Further, the MCF has been tasked to manufacture metro coaches with 100 km per hour speed potential for the Kolkata me­t­ro. Thus, indigenisation through contract sti­pulation, knowledge sharing and technology transfers has resulted in creating an industry of metro coach manufacturing that benefits the burgeoning metro railway sector in India. Meanwhile, similar ste­ps can be taken to esta­blish home-grown original equipment manufacturers that provide me­tro components at a cheaper cost and ad­apted to Indian conditions.

In a notable achievement under the Make in India initiative, the Delhi metro in October 2020 received the 800th indigenously manufactured metro car from Bombardier for its network. Bombardier has won a contract to supply 40 BOMBARDIER MOVIA metro cars to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). These will be delivered from Bombardier’s manufacturing site in Gujarat. The last train set was delivered in December 2020.

Technological advancements and innovations

Metro systems have been increasingly focusing on switching to advanced technologies such as driverless operations. The upcoming urban rail projects are now ensuring that their rolling

sto-ck supports driverless technology. Metro corporations in India currently use at least one driver on each of their vehicles, and while the ca­pa­city for full automation has been installed, it is still some years away. The introduction of smart and safe driverless train operations in metro systems will help in improving energy efficiency and operations.

The introduction of smart and safe driverless train operations in the Delhi metro is well received by the metro corporation as it has helped in increasing energy efficiency and im­proving operations. The Delhi Metro Grey Line (Dwarka-Najaf­ga­rh), which recently commenc­ed operations, became the third line whi­ch permits driverless operations under the DMRC network. It is equipped with Bombar­dier’s CITYFLO 650 CBTC solution.

Driverless train service is also expected to be launched in Bengaluru by 2022 as the CBTC signalling system is expected to be in­tro­duced in Bengaluru metro Phase II. Fur­th­er, the Hyde­rabad metro is considering in­tro­ducing driverless technology. The increasing adoption of CBTC technology highlights the fact that it is successful and will reduce the scope of accidents.

Some other major innovations in the rolling stock segment include the introduction of obs­truction deflection devices and deployment of real-time monitoring systems in coaches. the MMRDA has awarded a contract to BEML for supplying 378 coaches for metro Lines 2A, 2B and 7 under which coaches will be equipped with ob­s­truction deflection devices. The device will all­ow the train to push its way through sm­all obs­tructions on the track to avoid derailment. Mea­nwhile, the Chennai Metro Rail has planned to introduce a real-time monitoring solution in me­tro coaches for which it had sign­ed an agreement with US-based technology firm Trimble in July 2018.

The way forward

The rolling stock market is set to receive a major boost in the next four to five years from the healthy line-up of urban rail projects. As per industry estimates, there is a requirement of 4,000 coaches across upcoming metro systems in the country. In the next 15 years, 100 refurbished coaches per year are required for existing metro networks. Further, the government’s focus on Make in India coaches will incentivise foreign players to set up manufacturing units in the country.