The regional rapid transit system (RRTS) is a new, transformational and strategic regional public transit intervention of the government in the National Capital Region (NCR). A high speed (design speed 180 kmph and operational speed 160 kmph), high frequency, reliable and safe RRTS will connect metropolitan and big cities, towns, other suburban and urban centres in the NCR. The RRTS will empower citizens through access to education, healthcare, employment and economic opportunities and effectively address issues of hazardous air pollution, severe congestion and unmanageable urban sprawl on a sustainable basis as it offers a faster, safer, more reliable, commuter friendly and energy efficient mobility solution. Besides promoting balanced and sustainable urban development across the NCR, the RRTS will also bring in significant economic benefits such as savings due to a reduction in pollution, travel time, vehicle operating costs, road stress and accidents, improved productivity output of labour and industries, indirect and induced employment, and an increase in the GDP of the entire region.
The construction of the 82 km long Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut RRTS corridor is in progress. This RRTS corridor passes through densely populated cities and towns such as Delhi, Sahibabad, Ghaziabad, Muradnagar, Modinagar and Meerut. RRTS infrastructure is also being used to provide local transit (metro) services in Meerut over a stretch of 21 km with 13 stations (stoppages) to meet the local mobility requirements of Meerut.
Progress under Phase I
The three stretches prioritised under Phase I of the project include Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut, Delhi-Panipat and Delhi-Alwar. The length for the prioritised corridors is around 350 km, with 600 coaches, six depots and an estimated cost of Rs 1 trillion.
The three under-construction corridors will be interoperable, providing seamless movement. All corridors will converge at Sarai Kale Khan. Multimodal integration will take place across different transport modes such as the metro (seven Delhi metro lines, Meerut metro, Gurgaon rapid metro and Bawal metro), interstate bus terminals (Sarai Kale Khan, Kashmiri Gate, Anand Vihar, Panchgaon, and Panipat), bus terminals (Kaushambi Bus Depot, Sahibabad bus adda, Ghaziabad New bus adda, Muradnagar bus stand, Bhaisali bus adda, Bawal, Gannur and Panipat Bus Stand), railway stations (Hazrat Nizamuddin and Anand Vihar) and Indira Gandhi International Airport (via the Aerocity metro).
The RRTS is anticipated to be the fastest, most comfortable, most reliable and the safest mode of travel in the NCR. The mobility focus of RRTS will be regional, multi-city and multi-state compared to only local and intra-city as seen in metro systems. The design speed of RRTS is 180 kmph (90-100 kmph more than metro systems), with the average speed being 100 kmph (65 kmph faster). The elevated civil structure is heavier due to higher dynamic load. The underground tunnel diameter is 6.5 metres or higher. Baggage space in the rolling stock has resulted in an increase in its height. In addition, a total of nine coaches are being planned.
Signalling design criteria
The Delhi-Meerut RRTS Corridor will be the world’s first rail corridor to adopt European Train Control System Level 2 (ETCS L2) signalling over a long term evolution (LTE) communication backbone with Hybrid Level 3 functionality. The project will also deploy Interoperable Automatic Train Operation (ATO) over ETCS. Another first for the project is the integration of Platform Screen doors (PSD) over the ETCS signalling system, utilising Packet 44 for train and PSD door synchronisation. This makes this project one of the most advanced signalling projects in the world, putting India a step ahead globally and paving the way for innovation and technology adoption in the country. State-of-the-art ETCS L2 technology is being used in the RRTS for the first time in India and will achieve the twin objectives of interoperability (vendor independence) and efficient high-speed operations with increased safety, higher line capacity and improved headways.
NCRTC is reviewing the designs of the track alignment for 180 kmph train operation on its in-house open rail designer platform. The in-house capabilities being developed are for reviewing the alignment on software. The alignment is further integrated with Google Maps, generating the digital terrain model (ground surface) from the existing topography survey. The tool also allows for designing the vertical alignment, reviewing the horizontal alignment, identifying critical locations of the alignment violating the speed potential and highlighting components requiring modification, and generating automatic annotation of plan and profile drawings.
NCRTC has also developed in-house competence on OpenTrack simulation software, which takes inputs from track, signal and telecommunication and rolling stock. These simulation results aid in optimising track layouts, the formulation of train operation plans, tunnel ventilation systems, energy optimisation, etc. NCRTC has also utilised this capability to provide consultancy service to the Kerala High Speed Rail (Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod) project.
Leveraging technology at the construction stage
NCRTC is using the latest technology and tools and industry best practices to achieve optimisation in planning, efficiencies in execution, and effectiveness in monitoring and managing risks to deliver projects in time within budget. Some of the tools being used include Common Data Environment, Building Information Modelling, the in-house developed Systematic Program Evaluation for Efficient Delivery of Project (SPEED) platform, CORS, Drone, real-time CCTV surveillance and time-lapse cameras.
The technologies used at the construction stage include Primavera P6 and SPEED for project planning and monitoring, drones for documentation, and collaborative design. NCRTC is using most of the seven dimensions of building information modelling (BIM) on the RRTS project. By integrating BIM on the geographic information system (GIS) platform, NCRTC has created a digital twin of the RRTS project. By utilising virtual reality applications, the engineers are able to have immersive collaborative meetings and review designs on a 1:1 scale.
- CDE: Common Data Environment provides a cloud-based platform for document and drawing sharing and approval workflow management. CDE acts as a document management system and file approval system, while facilitating BIM. CDE allows for viewing, annotation and commenting of 3D BIM models, DWG drawings, without the use of any additional costly third-party solutions/software, all within the comfort of the browser. CDE helps in creating a digital repository of the complete project from inception till the completion of the project.
- BIM and GIS: NCRTC is using new and fast developing technologies in construction management such as BIM and GIS. BIM has advantages on rich geometric and semantic information through the building life cycle, while GIS is a broad field covering geo-visualisation-based decision-making and geospatial modelling. Shortened- BIM enables design cooperation and management, and saves time and money by allowing faster decision-making and less design and drawing revisions, thus eliminating costly last-minute adjustments during construction.
Project monitoring via SPEED
The key challenges being faced include catering to high-speed RRTS and low-speed metro on the same track infrastructure, creating a mechanism to eliminate the need to interchange between corridors, ensuring independence from vendor lock-in for corridor extensions, designing a mission-critical LTE-based safe train communication network, facilitating predictive and preventive maintenance, and ensuring accuracy of execution matching with geo coordinates in drawings.
With the implementation of RRTS, a balanced and sustainable economic development of the NCR is envisioned. The quality of life of people in the less influential segment of society will be improved with the uptick in economic activity. RRTS will be a boon for India given the explosion in population of late. The expansion of RRTS contributes to intra- and inter-city connectivity, and is crucial for providing last-mile connectivity, which feeder buses have failed to provide.
Based on a presentation by Navneet Kaushik, Director, Systems & Operations, NCRTC, at a recent India Infrastructure conference