AS its population swells to more than 1.2 billion, India is in desperate need of improved urban public transport infrastructure as traffic-clogged streets limit the movement of goods and people in its economic centres.

Already 46 Indian cities have a population of more than 1 million, the minimum deemed sufficient to build a metro system. This is expected to rise to 68 by 2030 as the population increases to 1.4 billion, with 40% of people residing in urban areas.

An investment of around $US 40bn of public and private money in urban rail is expected up to the middle of the next decade to address this problem, with the national and state governments keen to improve mobility as well as maintain India’s current high levels of economic growth through major public investments. As a result, cities across the country are now either already building, or striving to secure the funds for their next big project.

DelhiIndiaYellowWhile it was not the first city to open a metro line (that honour fell to Kolkata with its 3.4km north-south line in 1984) Delhi is pioneering metro development in India. Since opening the first section of the Red Line between Shahdara and Tis-Hazari in 2002, the city now boasts a five-line, 213km network that is used by an estimated 3 million passengers per day and as well as serving the city centre, reaches the outlying cities of Faridabad, Gurgaon, and Noida.

While the impact has been impressive - India’s Central Road Research Institute estimates that the network now saves Rs 12bn ($US 179.1m) in the cost of oil per year and has taken 390,000 vehicles off the city’s roads - the government is not stopping there. Plans are in place to develop a 413km network by 2024, with a further 136km and five lines currently under construction in the metro’s third development phase.

This includes two completely new lines: the 58.6km Pink Line, which follows the route of Delhi’s inner ring road, running clockwise from Shiv Vihar in the north-east of the city to Mukunpur in the northwest via Lajpat Nagar and Dhaula Khan serving 35 stations; and the 38.2km Magenta Line, which runs east-west from Botanical Garden to Janakpuri West serving 25 stations.

Issues with land acquisition have pushed the opening of these projects back until next year, with the Pink Line, which will be the city’s longest and India’s first automated line, not now expected to open until August 2017 due to the need to relocate some of the route. The line will be served by a fleet of 81 six-car trains supplied by Hyundai Rotem, which unlike existing rolling stock are formed of four motor cars and two trailers to offer a 10% increase in average speeds as well as a 20% energy saving due to enhanced regeneration.

The trains will also be used on the Magenta Line, which has faced similar land acquisition problems. No opening date is yet confirmed for the project, although with trial operation underway on some sections of both lines it is also expected to serve its first passengers in 2017.

Beyond the new lines, the third phase of the development programme has focused on expanding existing infrastructure. This includes a 9.6km extension of the Red Line east from Dilshad Garden to Ghaziabad Bus Adda, which will add six stations when it is completed in October 2017; a 4.5km extension of the Yellow Line from Jahangipuri to Samaypur Badli, which opened in November 2015; a 14km extension of the Violet Line from Bardapur to Escorts Mujesar, which opened in September 2015, with construction continuing on a further 5.4km northern underground extension from ITO to Kashmere Gate, which is expected to open in December and was 96.14% complete in July. This follows the opening of the 3km Central Secretariat - Mandi House and 1km Mandi House - ITO sections in June 2014 and June 2015 respectively. In addition, a 11.2km elevated extension of the Green Line from Mundka to Bahadurgarh was 79% complete in July. However, some land for this project has not yet been acquired. It is a similar situation for the 4.3km extension of the Blue Line from Dwarka to Najafgarh, which was 60.8% complete in July with again no completion date confirmed. Work is also underway on 6.7km extension of the Blue Line from its current elevated northern terminus at Noida City Centre to Noida Sector 62, which is expected to open in March 2017.

Phase 3 is estimated to cost Rs 410.79bn, with 48.57% of this coming from a Jica soft loan, 10.04% each from the governments of India and Delhi contributing, land and central tax covering 13.39%, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) property development accounting for 7.34% and a grant covering the remaining 10.62%.

Beyond Phase 3, tentative plans are in place for a fourth phase, which aims to add a further 105.9km to the network with work expected to commence in 2018. Projects include the new 22.2km Dark Green Line from Tughlakabad to IGI Terminal with 16 stations, which includes an 8km branch from Lajpat Nagar to Saket G-block with six stations; and the 12.58km Aqua Line from Inderlok to Indraprastha with 10 stations. The Red Line will also be extended by 21.7km and 16 stations north from Rithala to Narela; the Magenta Line by 28.9km and 26 stations clockwise from Janakpuri to Ramakrishna Ashram Marg on the existing Blue Line; and the Pink Line by 12.5km to complete the circular loop from Mukundpur to Maujpur south of Shiv Vihar.

Revised masterplan

DMRC’s experience in Delhi has established it as a leading consultant for other metro projects now taking shape across the country. In Mumbai DMRC was appointed by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to develop projects included in Phase 1 of the city’s metro masterplan which was first approved in 2004. However, the city only implemented Line 1 from this plan, which runs for 11.4km and 12 stations east-west from Versova to Ghatkopar. The line was developed as a public-private partnership (PPP) and opened in 2014. It has since carried more than 200 million passengers and has an average daily ridership of 340,000, which has increased by 18% since July 2015.

Continual delays led to the release of a revised masterplan in 2015 covering 118km of new infrastructure. From this, several projects have received new impetus and are on the verge of getting underway. These include the 42.1km Line 2, from Dahisar to Mankhurd, which is split into two phases. DMRC is responsible for executing the 18.5km elevated section between Dahisar and DN Nagar which will have 16 stations and is currently in the tendering phase with construction expected to start by the end of the year. The DN Nagar - Mankhurd section remains in the planning stage.

DMRC is also acting as the interim consultant for Line 7 which will run from Dahisar East to Anderei East. The line is 16.5km long with 16 stations and will be executed by MMRDA. Work is divided into three packages and is expected to start by the end of the year after contracts were awarded in April. The contractors have been set a deadline of 30 months to complete the Rs 62.08bn project with MMRDA aiming to open the line in 2019.

Also nearing the start of construction is Line 3 after contracts for the project’s seven construction packages were awarded in July. This 33km north-south line will run from Santa Cruz Electronic Export Processing Zone to Bandra and Colaba, and will have 27 stations. Work is expected to be completed in 2019-20. Beyond this, Line 4, a 33.3km link from Wadala to Kasaradavli line is proposed, with a detail project report completed in June with the now project now awaiting state government approval. Completion is expected by 2021. Finally, a further 11km west-east line is planned between Jogeshwari and Kanjurmarg, which is known as Line 6, and will be implemented by Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation.

In neighbouring Navi Mumbai construction began on the 11.1km Line 1 as long ago as 2011 but delays with securing approvals have held the project back. The line will run from Belapur to Pendhar and have 11 stations and is now expected to be completed by 2018-19.

Trials on the first 4.4km stretch of Hyderabad’s inaugural metro line between Miyapur and Kukatpally commenced in May 2015 following nearly three years of construction. Testing using the line’s Hyundai Rotem metro trains was subsequently extended to Ameerpet in October 2015, the terminus of the 10km first phase of the Green Line project. Likewise, work on the 8km Nagole - Mettuguda first phase of the Red Line is now complete and operations have been approved.

However, as these lines do not connect, which will limit potential ridership, they are not likely to open until the intermediate section of the Red Line is finished, with more than 80% of works on the link to Ameerpet now complete. Ultimately the Red Line will run for 29.5km, and the Green Line for 27.9km, with the 17.9km second phase of this line to LB Nagar currently in the planning phase.

In total the complete 72.5km elevated first phase of the metro development plan consists of three lines with the 14.8km JBS - Falaknuma Blue Line also planned. The lines will utilise 57 three-car trains and automatic train operation using CBTC supplied by Thales with minimum headways of 90 seconds. However, while it was initially expected to open by July 2017, the first phase will not now be fully operational until December 2018 according to the contractor Larsen & Toubro, which owns the project’s concessionaire, L&T Metro Rail Hyderabad (LTMRH).

Indeed, unlike Delhi, which is financing its metro programme using public debt, Hyderabad is utilising a PPP model with a Rs 14.13bn agreement for the project signed by LTMRH in September 2010. Both the rail project and 18.5 million m2 real estate development element are financed through 30% of the company’s equity and 70% debt which was raised from 10 banks.

Phase 2 of the project proposes adding a further 83km to the network. Plans include extensions of the Green Line from LB Nagar to Hayathnagar (7km), and from Miyapur to Patancheru (13km); and on the Red Line from Nagole to LB Nagar and Shamshabad Airport (28km), and Raidurg - Gachibowli - Shamshabad Airport to complete the circular route. In addition, there are plans to build the new Purple Line from Tarnaka to ECIL (7km).

Staff cuts

Chennai’s inaugural metro line opened in June 2015 but since then performance has not matched expectations. Plans to connect stations on the 9km elevated section of Line 2, which runs between Koyambedu and Alandur have yet to take off, while passengers have complained about the perceived high cost of tickets. With an average of only 8000 passengers using the line each day - down from 25,000 when the service started - Chennai Metro Rail has cut staff at some stations, leaving vending machines as the only option to buy tickets.

Jaipur Metro TrainThe hope is that an extension to the service will make the metro more attractive, with the latest section - an 8km stretch of the Line 1 between Chennai Airport and Little Mount expected to open as IRJ went to press. The line interchanges with Line 2 at Alandur and has six stations, and while the majority of infrastructure is elevated, there is a 600m underground section to avoid the airport’s flightpath.

This line is part of 35.1km of construction currently underway on Phase 1 of the metro development plan, with the two lines expected to open in stages up to 2019. Ultimately Line 2 will run for 22km between Chennai Central station and St Thomas Mount with 21 stations, while the 23.1km Line 1 will serve 17 stations between Wastermenpet and the airport. Beyond this Phase 2 envisages construction of three additional lines beginning in 2019-20: Line 3 Madhavaram - Red Hills (50 km); Line 4 Light House - Poonamalee (25 km); and Line 5 Perumbakkam - Wimco Nagar (47.7 km).

While Kolkata built India’s first metro line, the city has had to wait a long time for its second. After opening in 1984, Line 1 was gradually extended at either end to run for 16.5km from Girish Park to Mahanayak Uttam Kumar by 1995. Further extensions were completed between 2009-2013, taking the southern terminus to Kavi Nazrul, the northern terminus to Noapara, and the total length of the line to 27.4km.

Work on another 4.3km northern extension project, which will take the line to Dakshineshwar, is now underway. However, the cost of the project has increased by 100% since it started and it is not now expected to open until June 2019. The line is though set to benefit from 14 new eight-car trains supplied by CRRC subsidiary CNR Dalian with deliveries set to commence in the middle of next year and conclude by mid-2018.

Construction on Line 2 began in 2009 and the project is split into two phases: Phase 1 runs for 9.4km east-west from Salt Lake Sector 5 to Sealdah and will have eight stations; Phase 2 will run for 5.3km and four stations from Sealdah to Howrah Maidan, interchanging with Line 1 at Central. In total the line will consist of 5.8km elevated and 8.9km underground sections. However, difficulties with land acquisition and relocation of slums along the route have pushed the cost of the project up from Rs 48.76bn to Rs 89.97bn as deadlines have been continually pushed back. But with these problems now seemingly behind it, the first phase is expected to be completed by June 2018 and the second by August 2019.

Progress has also been slow on the city’s other metro projects, which were revived at the start of the decade from plans first developed in the 1970s following the allocation of funds in the national railway budget.

Among them is the 29.1km New Garia - Airport Line 6, which was expected to be completed by the end of this year when the project started in June 2014. However, while progress has been steady on the elevated sections of the line, land acquisition issues have again delayed completion and pushed up costs. It’s a similar situation with Line 3, the 9.7km Joka - Majerhat project where there has been little progress, and Line 4, the 6.9km link from Noapara to NSCBI Airport.

Bangalore is now operating 30.3km of the 42.3km first-phase of its network, which comprises the Green and Purple lines, following the opening of the latest addition to the Purple Line, the 4.8km stretch from Magadi Road to MG Road at the end of April. This project took the total length of the Purple Line to 18.7km and a through service is available for the first time between the two previous sections to open - the 7.5km eastern section between M G Road and Baiyappanahalli in October 2011, and the 6.4km western stretch from Mysore Road to Magadi Road in November 2015.

The network employs the same technical and financial standards as Delhi, with the remaining work under Phase 1 now nearing its conclusion on the Green Line. Services on the 13.7km Sampige Road - Puttenahalli stretch are on course to start in late 2017.

In parallel, preliminary construction began in November 2015 on Phase 2, specifically the 6.5km elevated extension of the Purple Line from Mysore Road to Kengeri. Work will soon expand to further extensions of the two existing lines - a 15.5km extension of the Purple Line from Baiyappanahalli to Whitefield, which will take the total length to 34.3km, and Green Line extensions of 6.3km from Puttenahalli to Anjanapura, and 3.8km from Nagasandra to BIEC, which will take the total length to 40.1km. In addition, two new lines will be built: the 18.8km Yellow Line, which will run from R V Road to Bommasandra and the 21.2km Red Line from Gottigere to Nagavara. In total the projects will add a further 72km to the network including 13km of tunnels and 61 new stations, with a provisional completion date of 2024.

In the long term, Phase 3 envisages adding another 102km to the network, with work expected to start in 2025 and conclude in the 2030s. Phase 3 includes three new lines: the Blue Line from Carmelaram to Yelahanka (32km); Pink Line from Marathahalli to Hosakerehalli (21km), and the Brown Line from Silkboard to KR Puram and Hebbal (29km). The Red Line will also be extended from Nagavara to the Airport (23km).


DMRC prepared a detailed study of a metro system for Ahmedabad as long ago as 2004 and the network was projected to carry 675,000 passengers per day by 2010. But 12 years on, following numerous route changes and a reported Rs 1.13bn scam, just 15.5km of the 37.8km first phase is currently under construction after work finally commenced in March 2015.

The network’s prospects improved following the appointment of DMRC in 2013 to revise the detailed design, which included switching to standard-gauge and 750V dc third rail instead of broad gauge and 1.5kV dc proposed in a revised study issued in 2012. The network will be also be automated and employ three-car rather than two-car trains, increasing capacity to 1400 from 800 passengers.

After starting last year, work is progressing well on the 6km Apparel Park to Vastral Gam section of the 20.5km east-west Line 1. Construction is also underway on the 4.9km Motera - Ranip and 4.6km Shreyas - APMC sections of Line 2, which are located at either end of the north-south line and will be entirely elevated.

In July, bidding concluded for all remaining sections of the two lines, including 6.3km of tunnelling on Line 1. Construction work on these packages is expected to start next year and be completed by 2022. Overall the network is projected to carry 663,000 people by 2022 and 1.25 million by 2043.

Elsewhere construction is nearing completion on a 7km extension of Gurgaon’s existing 5.1km line which will run south from the existing interchange with Delhi Metro’s Yellow Line at Sikanderpur to Sector 55-56. The extended line will be served by a fleet of 12 three-car trains supplied by CRRC Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive and is expected to begin operating by the end of the year. In Jaipur a 2.4km extension of the 9.6km Pink Link, which opened in June 2015, is currently under construction and is expected to be completed by 2018, while in Kanpur the Indian government approved two proposed lines in May: the 8.6km Line 2 from Chandra Sheker to Azad University, and Line 1, which will run for 23.8km from IIT Kanpur to Naubasta. Work on this line is expected to start in 2017. In Kochi construction of the 25.1km Phase 1A, which has 22 stations, started in June 2013 and is expected to become operational in 2017. Work on Phase 1B, an 11.2km branch from Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to Infopark II, will start next year.

Similarly, in Lucknow construction on the city’s first metro line, the 22.9km north-south line between CCS Airport and Munshi Pulia began in September 2014 with the 8.3km elevated section from Transport Nagar to Lucknow station. Trials are expected to begin in December ahead of opening on March 26 2017 with Alstom supplying rolling stock. Preliminary work on the 3.4km underground section from the main line station to KD Singh Babu Stadium commenced in July.

In Nagpur 12.1km of the 19km north-south Line 1 is under construction between the southern terminus at Khapri to Ajni Square in the city centre, while in Noida, southeast of Delhi, work on the 30km Line 1 from Sector 71 to Gr Noida Depot commenced in May 2015, and following encouraging progress, the line is on schedule to open in December 2017. DMRC was appointed operator of the line in August and has agreed to purchase 19 four-car trains from CRRC.
In addition, in May the Indian government approved two lines in Varanasi - the 19.4km Line 1 from BHEL to BHU and 9.9km Line 2 from Benia Bagh to Sarnath - with construction here expected to start next year.

Finally, the state government of Andrha Pradesh released the first funds for the Vijayawada metro in August. DMRC and the Amaravati Metro Rail Corporation will implement the project, the first phase of which consists of two lines: the 12.3km link from Pandit Nehru Bus Station (PNBS) to Penamaluru, and the 13.3km link from PNBS to Nidamanuru. Work on both lines is expected to start in 2017.