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Tuesday , 25 January 2022

Mumbai Metro-Connecting safely and efficiently

When a consortium led by Reliance Infrastructure bagged from Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) the contract for constructing the Mumbai Metro in 2007, a milestone in Mumbai’s transit culture was laid. Despite India experimenting with the latest technology in traffic, travel and transportation, Metro’s entry into the country’s financial capital was significant – specially, when it received a go-ahead after over two decades of being in the grapevine of Mumbai’s travel arena. It gains significance also because Delhi has beaten Mumbai to the Metro culture by eight years and Kolkata has beaten it by 27 years!

Mumbai Metro’s Phase One has three lines – the contracts for Line 1 and Line 2 have been awarded to Reliance Infrastructure while the contract for Line 3 is yet to be awarded. The government is yet to decide where should Line 3 end after starting at Colaba and going via Mahim – at Kurla or at Santacruz! The consortium for Line 1 (Versova to Ghatkopar) includes Anil Ambani Group (ADAG)’s Reliance Infrastructure, MMRDA and Veolia Transport (France). The civil work on this line is 70 percent complete. The contract for Line 2 (Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd) was won by the consortium of Reliance Infra, Reliance Communications and SNC Lavolin Inc, Canada. The latter, Canada’s largest engineering company, is best known for developing an Algerian city to house 80,000 people. Mumbai Metro Line 1 is India’s first MRTS project that has been awarded on Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis.

Mumbai Metro – as it is popularly called – will be a 146kms long raid-based Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) for the city of Mumbai that will be constructed in three phases. The three metro lines to be constructed in the first phase are – Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar, i.e. VAG (11.4kms), Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd, i.e. CBM (33 kms) and Colaba-Bandra-Airport, i.e. CBA (30kms). It will be implemented on a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) basis over a concession period of 35 years. The second phase, connecting 40kms of Carnac Bunder-Wadala-Ghatkopar-Mulund-Teen Haath Naka stretch, will begin in 2011 and be completed in 2016. The third phase, beginning in 2016 and ending in 2021, will connect Airport-Kanjurmarg (9.5kms) and 18kms of Andheri (E)–Dahisar (E) stretch. The cost of the project will be shared by the central and state governments. Line 1, which is at an advanced stage of completion, is to be completed by 2012 as per the concession agreement.

Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL) is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) formed under the Indian Companies’ Act of 1956 to implement the VAG corridor. The Line 2 project is being implemented by a SPV called Mumbai Metro Transport Pvt Ltd (MMTPL). MMTPL has already commenced the preliminary design, planning and engineering works, appointment of consultants, obtaining necessary approvals, etc. It has announced the financial closure since all the debts for the project have been tied up. The project is scheduled to be completed in five years.

Reliance Infrastructure Limited, that leads the consortium, is in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. India’s foremost private sector utility, it distributes more than 21 billion units of electricity in Mumbai.

MMRDA, responsible for the development of Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), is the nodal agency for the development of the Metro system in Greater Mumbai. It is also the concession authority for VAG Corridor and is responsible for providing the Viability Gap funding to the SUV.

Veolia Transport has entered into a five-year contract for Operations and Maintenance of the system (Line 1) under a separate joint venture company namely Mumbai Metro Operation Pvt Ltd (MOOPL) for an initial period of five years. Veolia holds 70% of the equity share while Reliance Infra holds 30% share in MOOPL. Veolia Transport, a part of Veolia Environment Group, specialises in land and sea transportation and helps public authorities organise mobility services. Known for its expertise in intelligent transport systems, it designs, organises and manages sustainable mobility in the “most urban and regional configurations”. Its multimodal solutions include trains, metros, light rail, buses, coaches, bicycles, taxis and ferries. An environment conscious company, Veolia operates in 28 countries.

Even during the construction stage, special thought was given to traffic management and safety issues. The traffic management plan and the traffic division plan were worked out in consultation with international consultants and traffic police. A large number of traffic wardens have been employed on contractual basis for managing the traffic under the supervision of traffic constables along the VAG corridor.

Says K P Maheshwari, Director, Mumbai Metro One Private Limited, “The operations of the system including running of the trains to managing the crew, station managers, staff, operators, customer, safety – everything will be handled by Veolia which is a world class operator. The only aspect of maintenance and operations that we have not outsourced to them is security.”

Why Was It Needed

In Mumbai, about 11 million people travel by public transport, i.e. rails, buses and private vehicles daily. While the road network is saturated and cannot be expanded further, the suburban rail network has increased by six times as against its capacity of 2.3 times. Also, the existing suburban rail services that carry about seven million passengers every day do not conform to rapid transit specifications. While each suburban train has the capacity to carry 1750 passengers but carries 4500, the number of vehicles in the city has grown from 61,000 to 1.02 million in the last four decades. Against this scenario, the buses are reduced to only providing feeder services to the railways. The rail services, in turn, do not reach many pockets at present. The road and rail services, both put together, are not capable of meeting the future travel demand. Also, the worsening of the environment due to growth in road traffic is alarming. Hence, a need was being felt for a Mass Rapid Transit System that was faster, safer and more efficient and environment-friendly.

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