“We are creating a network of networks”: Views of Vinay Kumar Singh, Managing Director, NRCTC

Vinay Kumar Singh, Managing Director, National Capital Region Transport Corporation

NCRTC is implementing India’s first regional rail project. The 82 km-long corridor connecting Delhi, Ghaziabad and Meerut has 25 stations. In a unique proposition, we are also providing metro services on the regional rapid transit system (RRTS) infrastructure within Meerut. The corridor’s 17 km-long priority section between Sahibabad and Duhai depot is ready for commissioning within four years from the commencement of construction. It is the country’s first railway system with a maximum operational speed of 160 kmph.

Broadly speaking, there are two key elements that have played a key role in ensuring the timely implementation of the RRTS: first, the early identification and mitigation of risks, and second, the use of digital tools in project management. As part of our risk mitigation strategy, we also decided to undertake all enabling works, such as utility shifting and road widening, with the help of the respective utility owners, to be handled as deposit works, or through independent contracts, much before onboarding the main civil contractor. This helped in minimising the risk of time and cost overruns.

The RRTS is an entirely new project with no precedents in the country. Several technologies and practices are being adopted for the first time. Despite the use of these first-of-their-kind technologies, we have prioritised the Make in India initiative. We implemented interoperability among the three priority RRTS corridors to enable seamless commuter movement. This was made possible through the adoption of Hybrid Level 3 technology of the European Train Control System (ETCS). This deployment combines the latest ETCS Standard, interlocking, platform screen doors and automatic train operation over LTE radio, a first-of-its-kind integration in the world.

We are creating a huge network of networks by integrating RRTS stations with railway stations, ISBTs/bus de­pots, airports and metro stations, wherever possible. This is in line with the government’s Gati Shakti Master Plan.

At the early stage of project implementation, we have adopted a common data environment, an electronic platform for all communication and documentation. All our communication with designers, contractors, suppliers, etc. takes place on this platform. In addition to collaborative work, this platform serves as a single source of truth.

The RRTS project has its own specific safety protocols and standards, in addition to complying with the general rules mandated by the regulatory authorities. The system has undergone rigorous safety assessments during the design, planning and execution phases by international independent safety assessors.

Out of the eight identified RRTS corridors, three have been prioritised for implementation in Phase I: Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut, Delhi-Guru­gr­am-SNB-Alwar, and Delhi-Panipat. The 82 km-long Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut RRTS corridor will be fully operational by June 2025. For the Delhi-SNB RRTS corridor, the detailed project report (DPR) has been approved by the concerned state governments and we have completed almost all pre-construction works. We are now awaiting approval from the central government. The DPR of the Delhi-Panipat RRTS corridor has been approved by the Haryana government and is under active consideration by the Delhi government for its approval.