Interviewed by Mitalee Kurdekar
You are at the helm of Nagpur’s massive 38.2km metro system. Can you give us an overview of the project?
This project was sanctioned in 2014 and will provide a Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) to the city of Nagpur. We started the physical execution in May 2015 and the progress is about 30%, so far. Civil works are in progress at all the reaches. There are four reaches, and orders for rolling stock and signalling works have already been placed and the bidding process for the other components like traction, power supply, OHE, fare collection system, etc. are at an advanced stage. It is planned that our first 5.5km section will be completed in the second half of this year, and we will be able to commission that cost. The entire 38km stretch for the project should be completed by 2019.
How are you planning the cost structure of building such a large-scale project? Who are the contributing organisations?
The project is a joint venture between the Government of India (GOI) and the Government of Maharashtra (GOM); they are 50-50 equity holders on this project. The funding arrangement is that about 58% of the project cost of Rs 8,680 crore comes as debt from external funding agencies and the remaining funding comes from the two governments – GOI and GOM – and 5% each from the local bodies, which are the Nagpur Municipal Corporation and Nagpur Improvement Trust. The debt component is coming from two agencies, one is KFW Germany and the second is AFD France, to the extent of €500 million and €130 million respectively. Our agreement with them is in place and the funds have started flowing.
Integration and last-mile connectivity are not happening with many of the existing metro rail projects. What is your approach to this in Nagpur?
Both are very important to ensure that we get people to use the metro system the way it is supposed to be used. People should be able to seamlessly travel through various modes of transport from their origin to their destination and, therefore, right from the beginning, we have planned to provide for multi-model connectivity as also the feeder service to provide last and first mile connectivity. So that plan is in place and the action is in progress.
There is a lot of buzz about the innovation being brought out in the Nagpur Metro project. Can you tell us about the technologies being employed for aspects like ‘Digital Project management’, ‘5D BIM’? Can you explain these innovations and how they benefit the Nagpur Metro project?
Since this is a new project, it has the advantage of being able to learn from everybody else and bring in the latest state-of-the-art technologies, and that is what we have done at Nagpur Metro. Firstly, 5D Building Information Modelling, that is 5D BIM, is a digital project management platform. We know that large projects like this one suffer from cost overruns, time overruns and documentation issues, which result in claims and disputes, later. Also, at the O&M level, sufficient data is not available for operation and maintenance to provide the lowest cost solution in the long run. However, with this digital project management platform, we can visualise the entire project and structure much before it is physically made. And that enables us to carry out our plans, designs & the actual implementation in a cost-effective manner and within the timeline, so that the project is completed within the cost and time which has been prescribed.
To do this, we use Bentley’s BIM platform, which has been used on mega projects globally, including London’s Crossrail, High-Speed 2 (HS2), and Network Rail. Bentley’s solutions have been integrated with ERP solutions provided by SAP, along with a scheduling component provided by Primavera, and integration solutions by RIB. There are number of components that we have brought together in a cohesive fold, so that we are able to implement the project seamlessly from the technical side to the financial side, and from scheduling to O&M, in a manner which is being done for the first time for a project of this magnitude.
There are several innovations implemented within this project. For instance, we have created a true 3D model using drone-based surveying and Bentley’s ContextCapture application for overall planning, utility relocation, and clash detection. We have brought in all the contractors, detailed design consultants, and our general consultants on to a single platform using Bentley’s ProjectWise and AssetWise solutions, which improves approval and review process time among various engineering fields for speedier construction.
Can you please elaborate on what these collaborative platforms are helping you achieve?
These platforms help us keep track of engineering documents from their inception to archival. Bentley’s ProjectWise enables us to store, share, collaborate and review engineering documents by all the stakeholders involved with the project while the work is in progress as well as during construction. Bentley’s AssetWise is used to carry out asset information management, which is a very critical aspect for operation and maintenance. Some of the other solutions that are being used are Power Rail Track to design tracks, STAAD and AECOsim Building Designer to analyse and model the station buildings.
Do you see this 5D BIM model being replicated at other metros now that Nagpur Metro has set the benchmark? And what is your plan to extend this to other metros under Maha Metro?
The 5D BIM model has been fully implemented in our Nagpur project and we are now also working on Pune Metro, so obviously, it will be implemented in Pune too. I am sure it has the potential to be replicated in any other project of this magnitude and to be scaled up further, so that we can get the full advantage and benefit of this digital project management platform, particularly because it is Indians who are doing the work on similar projects abroad. Today, all major projects in the world are being implemented on this platform and a lot of Indian technical personnel are working on such projects.
Skilled manpower and change/adoption to technologies has always been an issue; how are you addressing this?
Everybody remains sceptical in the beginning, but since we have started initially, we have no legacy problems. Right from day one, we have trained the workforce on how to use these technologies. We have recently launched a BIM Advancement Academy with support from Bentley Institute (from Bentley Systems) – which has been a practice abroad – to not only train our Nagpur Metro staff and officers, but also the personnel of the design consultants, contractors, and all other associated persons, so that not only is this project started on this platform, but it is sustained in the long run, too.
A consortium of Systra, Egis, AECOM and RITES has been appointed as general consultants. What is the scope of their role? What are the key learnings so far?
They carry out the duties and responsibilities associated with being an engineer to the project. In addition, they are project management consultants; they undertake the supervision of all construction sites, oversee the safety and quality aspects, and check the designs, complete plans, look after coordination with other agencies, so on and so forth. Bidding process management is a very important project. However, with the Nagpur Metro, we had done quite a lot of the work for the bidding process before they came on-board, and so as far as this consortium is concerned, the bidding process has been done by them to the extent of I think only about 40%, the rest we did ourselves. But in the case of Pune Metro, we will put them on board right in the beginning so that the process is even faster than it was in Nagpur. Initially, certainly for the first year, we will have the same consortium at work in Pune.
There is a huge focus on the green aspect of Nagpur Metro. What are some of the environmentally-friendly processes that will be deployed at this metro?
That is another piece of innovation that we have carried out. We figured out that we will be creating more than one lakh m2 of roof area in the metro, because all the stations will have roofs, and there is a great opportunity of putting solar panels on those rooftops. Also, if it is done right in the beginning, it can be done in a cost-effective manner and be optimised, and that is what we did. As a result, we will be producing about 14MW of power initially, and we will meet 65% of the energy requirement of the metro, which is a first not only in India, but even otherwise, according to international consultants.
In addition, all our stations will be green buildings. We want to promote non-motorised transport up to 500m, so people can walk to the station. We are also planning to provide a cycling course. Our goal is to ensure that there is ridership on the metro even on holidays, for leisure and entertainment-based travel. Another important addition is a viewing gallery with entertainment, food and other facilitates, at the station where the metro passes through the Ambazari Lake for almost one km. This will also contribute to increasing our non-fare box revenue, and decrease our dependence on fare-box revenues. There will also be a heritage walk around Nagpur city from the Zero Mile station.
You are also heading the Pune Metro project. Please give us an overview of the project and its status.
The Pune Metro project was sanctioned in the first week of December by the Government of India and the Government of Maharashtra, and the Honourable Prime Minister had laid the foundation stone of that project on 24th December 2016. The organisational structure for its execution has been decided such that Nagpur Metro has been reconstituted as Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation, that is Maha Metro, on 23rd January 2017. With Maha Metro in existence, we have set up office in Pune. Our alignment survey work, geotechnical investigations, mapping of utilities, underground, etc. are in progress, and the manpower has been posted at Pune. Our bidding process documentation has stared, while the land acquisition process is underway. I think we should be able to start physical execution in two months’ time