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Changing Track

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The 6th Annual Metro Rail India Summit 2017 saw the country’s leading operators and decision makers deliberate on the industry’s evolution.

BY SHRISTI NANGALIA

With continually evolving cities, it is evident that there is a constant growth in population and traffic too. Being convenient, the public transport system gets chosen over private transport by a big bunch of the citizenry.
With successfully existing and expanding rapid transit systems in India, there is a need to catch up and discuss innovations,
technological yields and planning strategies for the future. For this purpose, Government officials, decision makers, technology experts and project leaders of this industry gathered for the 6th Annual Metro Rail India Summit 2017.
Organised by ITP Publishing India, the event was held at Hotel Shangri-La, New Delhi, on 3rd March 2017. It brought together professionals from Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation, L&T Metrorail (Hyderabad), CIDCO, Rapid Metro – Gurgaon, Kochi Metro Rail, Public Works Department – Government of Rajasthan, DMRC, Chennai Metro Rail, Metro-Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) Company, Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO), IL&FS Rail Limited – Gurgaon, IGBC- CII, Egis-India, KPMG Advisory Services, Blue Star, ZhuZhou CRRC Times Electric Co., Ltd, SAP India, Saertex, Keolis SA, and Quantum Global Solutions.

The gathering was welcomed by Bibhor Srivastava, group publishing director, ITP Publishing India. He introduced Construction Week magazine to the audience. Rahul Deshpande, VP, operations, electro-mechanical projects group, Blue Star, gave the welcome address. “New metro rail policies enact with focus on innovative models of implementation, finance, standardisation,
indigenisation of hardware and software which includes Make in India. Blue Star is a 73-year young organisation and is part of this journey by offering Made in India global standard products, MEP services of world standard, for ECS, TVS and E&M requirements of metro projects in India,” he informed.
Deshpande, while explaining the Blue Star Advantage, expanded, “We have five modern manufacturing facilities, with comprehensive solutions for corporate, commercial and residential segment customers. We have won an MEP Contractor of the Year 2015 award and got the runners up prize for MEP Contractor of the Year for 2016 for Bangalore Metro, at the Construction Week India Awards.”
The first panel discussion focused on the ‘Role of Innovation and Technology in Metro Rail Systems’. Moderator Gaurav Srivastava, director, transportation, Egis-India, pinpointed the aspects of exploration, including innovation, involvement of modernisation, new implementations and sustainability. The panellists MP Naidu, project director, L&T Metrorail (Hyderabad);
Sunil Darade, additional chief engineer, CIDCO; Dilip Jadeja, VP, rolling stock & electrical, Rapid Metro – Gurgaon; Praveen Goyal, director, systems, Kochi Metro Rail; Subrata Das, industry director, public services & country lead, Internet of things, SAP India; Mahendra Kumar, director (rolling stock and systems), LMRC; and Sahadeva Singh Rathi, director project, Metro-Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) Company, actively participated in the conversation.
Talking about innovations, Das stated that business models are changing and technology disruptions are happening. He indicated, “It is imperative to invest in innovation. Understanding what customers want and bringing forth products, solutions, services & processes which enable a retail customer experience,helps us to get into a wider space and make changes.”
Naidu feels that we cannot do without innovation. He believes that we need to be cautious while selecting the innovation techniques,but envisions a need for metros in every state capital.
Working with both Delhi Metro and Lucknow Metro corporations, Mahendra Kumar shared his experiential knowledge as he said, “Electricity is getting expensive day-by-day. Around 35-40% of the cost of O&M goes towards the cost of electricity. This area needs innovation as it is one of the most important aspects for any metro to be sustainable.”
Rathi added, “Innovation has to start from planning, procurement, design, execution and then durability aspects. There are many examples of success. There are also examples of isolations or failures. That is mostly because of improper application
of innovation in their management.”
Talking about older times, Goyal said that railways, military and other government-backed sectors were the major innovators.
Earlier, product innovations were being adopted at the primary stages. He believes that innovation can be in a product, a policy or even a tendering process.

“Being from the government, I have seen that innovation in metro development can come when all bodies come under one roof and have single-window clearances. There is no innovative solution for this; we must go from department-to-department.
For them, the project is not a priority,” shared Darade.
Jadeja wished to rephrase all the ideas and experiences by taking a bottom-up approach. The sustainability issue can be solved through innovation, he stated. He compared the metros which are already operating and those that are new. In both cases, the process and achievement of innovation varies widely. For each of them, he suggests a comparative approach to the project cycle, operation and maintenance costs that will directly cut down costs.
With the end of the first panel, Zhang Chao, metro system engineer, ZhuZhou CRRC Times Electric Co., Ltd, then talked about two recent projects – Permanent Magnet Synchronous System (PMSS) and Big Data Intelligence Solutions (BDIS). He proudly announced, “We are the world’s biggest propulsion and control system provider and a technology leader that works closely with industry transport and infrastructure customers, globally. With more than five decades at the forefront of these industries, we are experts in helping our customers to maintain their competitive edge.”
After giving a brief introduction of driving business valuation with rapid monetisation and profitable operations for metro rail, Naga Krishna Tej Chelamkuri, director, solution engineering (strategic industries), SAP India & Sub-Continent, added, “SAP is not only an ERP company, we are also into IoT. We are also into Cloud, Big Data and Predictive Analytics.”
A video presentation was played out in the absence of Dr PKC Bose, VC & MD, Saertex India. The narration highlighted the advance composite materials used in railways and the works carried out by Saertex in this regard. Saertex offers an end-to-end solution to any kind of application, worldwide. The presentation also stated that Saertex is the world leader in glass, carbon and aromite fabrics.
It was then time for the much-awaited CXO panel discussion. Moderated by Kumar Keshav, MD, Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation, the second panel discussion covered the topic ‘Planning and Preparing for a Better Future’. Panellists included Rajesh Kumar, executive director, urban transport & high speed, Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO); Rajiv Banga, MD & CEO, IL&FS Rail Limited, Gurgaon; Dinesh Suri, adviser, business development, ZhuZhou CRRC Times Electric Co., Ltd; and Alpna Khera, advisor growth markets/India, Keolis SA.
Keshav asked about how Rapid Metro and its future challenges are being taken care of. To which, Banga stressed on getting the institutional framework right. Be it a private or a government project, he had observed that the government interventions
in permitting land is a major challenge for private bodies. He himself felt difficulty in accessing land for their project
from HUDA (Haryana Urban Development Authority).
When asked to select one from PPP (Public Private Partnership) and BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) as the better mode to progress, Khera said that one mode is not sufficient to build the quantum of infrastructure that the country needs. She believes, “Connected design at the planning stage in the city would make the usage of public transportation a preferred mode, which would lead to ridership and further lead to the returns. So, these would be some of the contours because of which I might suggest PPP.”

Suri was asked if rolling stock and signalling only on PPP could be an alternative. He stated that Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) are interested in taking rolling stock on a lease basis, and to operate, they had approach CRRC and they would take it from there. He also believes that a lot of funding is available from China which could fund us at low rates with cheaper materials. But due to constraints, this couldn’t take place.
Keshav was keen to know from Rajesh Kumar if a streamling of the approval process for metro projects is the need of the hour. Kumar informed, “The Ministry of Railways has realised that a large numbers of metros are going to come up. There must be somebody for whom this is going to be the prime work, prime responsibility. In the last 4-5 years, we have developed
the competence to deal with most of the issues at our level – the directorate.”
Khera gave a presentation with a focus on the possible frameworks for O&M. Speaking about Keolis, Khera said, “We run around 240kms of metro network around the globe, 225 of that is automatic. We run around 660kms of tram, by far the largest network by any operator globally; run around 23,000 buses, 1,600 of them run on alternate fuel in Sweden; and a large train network on mass transit.”
The third panel discussion revolved around ‘Solutions for Sustainable Development and Operations of Metro Rail in India’.
The session was moderated by Rajaji Meshram, director, infrastructure and government services, KPMG Advisory Services,
India. The panellists who joined were Dr Vimal Gahlot, urban transport engineer, public works department, Government of Rajasthan; Satish Kumar, principal advisor, Kochi Metro Rail; AK Garg, ED (electrical), DMRC; Punit Agarwal, counsellor, IGBC, CII; Dr Umesh Rai, chief GM (electrical inspection), Chennai Metro Rail; and SN Bose, GM, construction, infrastructure projects division, Blue Star.
Meshram opened the discussion by asking Garg about how the safety measures and maintenance issues are managed in a huge transport network like the Delhi Metro. Garg answered, “Maintenance of our coaches mainly takes place during the night. We have different schedules. For infrastructure and equipment, we have laid down a very detailed schedule of in spections in consultation with the manufacturers.”
Satish Kumar was asked if it is challenging to apply a system or maintenance practice to the new metros. He agreed to the challenging nature, but believes that if the train, track, traction system and signalling system are reliable and error-free, the system is safe.
Gahlot said, “You have to plan for the green system, not only the planning stage, execution and maintenance, but every part of it, including an economical business model. Lots of efforts are being made and many agencies are working towards a green metro system.”
Meshram asked Bose about the latest designs in consumption of power in underground stations. Bose clarified, “We may adopt high efficiency magnets bearing oil-free chillers because of which a significant bearing load capacity condition operates around 20 hours per day. Now-a-days, we are designing high-chilled water temperature difference chillers which reduce the power generated.”
Agarwal highlighted, “If you see in absolute terms, metro is already green because it is the most efficient or environment-friendly transport mechanism, other than the Indian Railways.”
Rai was asked to share about energy-efficiency measures that Chennai Metro is undertaking. He said, “We have built stations
which are smaller. Stations which used to be 240mts have been brought down to 160mts. We have gone for solar, as everybody does. Now, we are going for wind energy, too.”
A felicitation ceremony was held to honour outstanding Indian Metro Rail operators, stakeholders and companies for their exceptional work. Finally, Bibhor Srivastava thanked everyone for their kind presence. Cocktails followed the end of a memorable day.

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