Miles and More: Urban rail networks scale up coverage and technology uptake

Urban rail networks scale up coverage and technology uptake

The urban transport sector has made significant progress over the past year. The urban rail network has increased remarkably. Over 750 km of metro network is currently operational. This is expected to rise over 900 km by 2022. There has been a growing focus on the use of green energy to re­du­ce depe­n­dence on conventional en­ergy sour­ces. The year 2021-22 also saw no­table deve­lopments such as the introduction of driverless technology on the Delhi Me­tro Pink Line, the rapid adoption of QR code ticketing and advancements in the survey system.

Indian Infrastructure provides a snapshot of the key developments in the urban transport sector over the past year…

Budgetary allocations

The Union Budget 2022-23 has set aside Rs 238.75 billion for the mass rapid transit system (MRTS), an increase of 1.7 per cent over 2021-22 (revised estimate). This includes an outlay of Rs 47.1 billion towards projects of the National Capital Region Transport Corpo­ra­tion (NCRTC).

Key project updates

A number of key me­tro projects were completed during the past 12-15 months:

  • Pune Metro: Two sections of the Pune Met­ro were inaugurated in March 2022. These in­clu­de the 7 km-long Pimpri-Chin­chwad Mu­ni­ci­pal Cor­poration (PCMC)-Phugewadi stretch and the 5 km-long Vanaz-Garware stretch.
  • Nagpur metro Phase I: Construction work on the Nag­pur Metro Rail Project Phase I has been completed. The project involved the de­ve­lopment of the 38.21 km-long metro rail system in Nagpur, Maharashtra, at an investment of Rs 86.8 billion.
  • Kolkata East-West Metro: Commercial op­e­rations on the 2.1 km-long Sealdah-Phoo­l­ba­gan section of the Kolkata East-West Metro Project commenced in July 2022.
  •  Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut RRTS: NCRTC conducted the test run of the train set for the De­l­hi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) Project in August 2022 on de­pot tracks at Duhai in Ghaziabad. Also, pier construction work has been completed on the 41 km-long stretch of the project.
  • Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar Metro Phase I: Trial runs on the Gyaspur depot-Motera stret­ch of the North-South corridor of the Ah­me­dabad-Gandhinagar Metro Rail Project – Pha­se I commenced in May 2022. The project in­volves the development of the 40.03 km-long metro rail corridor connecting the cities of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar at an investment of Rs 125 billion.
  • Mumbai Metro Line 3 tunnelling update: Tu­n­n­elling work on the 832.5 metre-long Maha­laxmi-Mumbai Central stretch of the Mumbai Metro Line 3 Project [Colaba-Bandra-Santa­cruz Elec­t­ro­nics Export Processing Zone (SEEPZ)] was completed in June 2022. With this, the entire downline tunnel of the project has been completed. The project involves the development of an underground metro rail system in Mum­bai connecting Colaba to SEEPZ via Bandra.

Technological uptake

Metro rails were among the early adopters of internet of things (IoT) and big data technology. Devices and sensors along the tracks and in­side stations have helped enhance operators’ situational awareness, and keep the rail system se­cure. Metro rail companies are managing and monitoring video surveillance data fee­ds, turns­tile entrance access control data, X-ray bagg­a­ge scanners, door metal frame detectors and handheld metal detector systems very efficiently.

  • Introducing automatic train supervision (ATS): In December 2021, indigenous-ATS te­ch­nology for the Delhi Metro’s Red Line was inaugurated. However, the final field trials of the indigenous-ATS were virtually inaugurated in March 2022.
  • Surveys using modern systems: The Telan­gana government’s special purpose vehicle (SPV), Hyderabad Metro Rail, has started a survey of the 5.5 km-long Old City route from the Mahat­ma Gandhi bus station, Imlibun to Falaknuma, of Corridor II (Green Line). The survey is being done through light detection and ranging (LiDAR), where the laser ranging system, global positioning system (GPS) and inertial measurement units are used with the help of machines. The Delhi Metro Rail Cor­poration (DMRC) is using IoT, which is a web of construction devi­c­es including GPS and sensors, for its Phase IV project. In addition, DMRC is carrying out GPS monitoring of all construction plants and machinery.
  • Advancements in fare media: Innovative solutions for fare collection, further supported by cashless transactions through mobile wallets and quick response (QR) codes, are being introduced. The Mumbai Metro has become the first MRTS to offer e-ticketing via WhatsApp. The Centre for Railway Informa­tion Systems developed the Metro Ride Kol­kata application in March 2022 for the met­ro commuters’ seamless travel and contactless ticketing. The Maha­ra­shtra Government has launched a pan-India Brihan­mumbai El­ec­tricity Supply and Transport card, also kno­wn as the national common mobility card, which can be used for travelling or purchasing all over the country. As per the latest de­ve­lopment, India’s first RRTS corridor, bet­ween Delhi and Meerut, will adopt a modern automatic fare collection system, which will be developed and implemented by Paytm Payments Bank Limited and the Datama­tics–AEP consortium.
  • Adoption of driverless operations: Metro systems have been increasingly focusing on switching to advanced technologies such as driverless operations. Driverless train operations on Delhi’s Pink Line (Line 7) were started in November 2021. Further, DMRC is plan­ning to acquire 52 new trains, including for the upcoming Silver Line under Phase IV, which would be compliant with unattended train operation.

Rising emphasis on solar power

The Pune Metro has made provisions for the installation of 11.19 MW of peak solar power generation on the rooftops of elevated stations and depots, right from their inception. The energy generated will be used in stations and as traction power for running trains. The project will be executed under the renewable energy service company model, with no capex, by the Ma­ha­ra­shtra Metro Rail Corporation (Maha Metro). More­­over, Bangalore Metro Rail Corpo­ration Limited (BMRCL) intends to utilise solar en­ergy to operate its trains. At present, solar pa­nels have been installed in five stations – Konana­ku­nte Cross, Doddakallasan­d­ra, Vajar­a­­halli, Talag­ha­ttapura and the Silk Ins­titute on the Kanaka­pura Road Metro corridor (Green Line extension, Yelachenahalli-Silk Institute). BMRCL plans to install solar panels in all metro stations covered under Phases 2, 2A and 2B by March 2023.

Key orders secured

  • Major innovations in the rolling stock segment include the introduction of obstruction deflection devices and deployment of real-time monitoring systems in coaches.
  • In a notable development, the Chennai Met­ro Rail Corporation has issued a letter of aw­ard worth Rs 9.47 billion in favour of Alstom Trans­port India for the supply of 78 metro coaches (Package ARE03A) for Corridor 4 of the Che­nnai Metro Rail Project Phase 2.
  • Recently, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Li­mi­ted received the first prototype train for the 33.5 km-long Colaba-Bandra SEEPZ Metro 3 corridor from Alstom Transport India.
  • Alstom has also been awarded a Euro 387 million contract by Madhya Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation Limited to deliver new trains for the Bhopal and Indore metro projects in India. The order is for 156 Movia metro cars, including the installation of the latest generation of the communication-based train control signalling system and train control and telecommunication systems.

Emerging modes of transit

Metrolite and MetroNeo are emerging modes of transit, which are receiving a positive response from the government and metro corporations.

  • A detailed project report (DPR) has been prepared for the Metrolite project in Coimba­to­re. Metrolite will cover a distance of 138.9 km in three phases and it is expected to be completed by 2027.
  • The Metrolite projects for Jammu and Sri­nagar cities are set to get approval from the union cabinet soon.
  • The Kerala government is likely to me­r­ge Kerala Rapid Transit Corporation Limited, the SPV formed to execute the Me­tro­lite project in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode, with Kochi Metro Rail Cor­poration Limited.
  • A DPR for a MetroNeo project has been prepared in-house by Uttarakhand Me­t­ro Rail and Urban Infrastructure and Building Cons­truction Corporation Limited.
  • Kochi Metro Rail Limited has proposed two MetroNeo stretches – the 6 km-long Thri­pu­nithura-Kakkanad (Infopark) corridor and the 4 km-long MG Road-Menaka-Park Ave­n­ue Road-Hospital Road-MG Road corridor.


The urban rail sector is growing at a rapid pace. The sector has a promising outlook given the policy support, robust project pipeline and inc­reasing emphasis on efficient modes of mass transport. The Make in India initiative has also increased the level of indigenisation in metro projects. The overall growth of the sector is de­pendent on a number of factors such as the cr­ea­tion of a Unified Metropolitan Transport Au­tho­rity, integration of various transport modes and smart ticketing.