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M. P. Naidu, Project Director, L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Ltd. is of the opinion that steel’s inherent adaptability and flexibility also means that future changes or extensions – even vertically – can be carried out with minimal disruption and cost. Read more for the full interview…

Q Why was the need to opt for the metro mode of transportation?
A About 40 per cent of the population of 600 million people are expected to live in cities by 2031, with about 30 cities having a population of 2 million. Having said this, growing cities, growing population and traffic, with each passing day, has invariably called for a shift from private modes of commute to public. The metro is the preferred choice of Mass Transport System for cities worldwide, offering a viable solution to the infrastructure challenges that accompany urban expansion. Hyderabad’s Metro Rail will feature several commuter-friendly advantages. Hyderabad’s transformation into an infotech hub provides the setting for another hi-tech initiative – the unique Hyderabad Metro Rail Project. The project integrates multi-modal public transportation with urban spaces, and undertakes infrastructure development of Hyderabad. The metro is an urban rejuvenation and redesign effort to transform Hyderabad into a people-friendly ‘green’ city.

Q According to you what are the distinct advantages of a metro rail?
A To begin with, the Metro Rail System has proven to be most efficient in terms of energy consumption, space occupancy and numbers transported. Such MRTS, if appropriately developed, would carry as much traffic as 7 lanes of bus traffic or 24 lanes of car traffic with reduced journey time by 50 per cent to 75 per cent. More so, such mode of transport causes no air pollution, much less sound pollution and reduces energy consumption – 20 per cent per passenger km in comparison to road-based systems. Metro rail systems are the mark of the new urban landscape. They speed commuters to their destination and add a distinctive element of style to a city. High-speed, high-capacity and hi-tech metros are here to stay.

Q What benefits does structural steel give to the designers involved in metro station structures?
A The versatility of steel gives architects the freedom to achieve their most ambitious visions. Steel structures can be erected speedily with accuracy. In fact, speed of erection is often one of the main criteria for selecting steel. In linear projects like Metro Rail, it also reduces disruption to nearby buildings and roads. Time related savings can easily amount to between 3 per cent and 5 per cent of the overall project value, reducing the client’s requirements for working capital and improving cash flow.

Steel-framed structures are highly durable, and do not age or decay as quickly as other construction materials, thereby, lasting longer before refurbishment is required. Steel’s inherent adaptability and flexibility also means that future changes or extensions – even vertically – can be carried out with minimal disruption and cost.

Q Being one of the largest infrastructure projects undertaken in the state, what are the real challenges faced by you during construction and how do you surmount those?
A Construction of elevated metro rail viaduct over 80 road junctions on three metro corridors is like building a number of flyovers over the busy traffic junctions without disrupting the vehicular traffic at the saturated junctions. However, junctions which have more than 34 metre of span length will have to be bridged through ‘in situ’ construction i.e. on-the-spot construction method. For allowing the traffic to pass through these junctions, a gap of about 50 feet will be left between the temporary supports, thereby, giving about three lanes on each side for movement of traffic.

Q Which are the other areas of construction in a metro project wherein steel can be used in a higher proportion for producing better results?
A Rail over bridges and viaduct over critical junctions is one area where steel is particularly important. The prefabrication of components means that construction time on site in hostile environments is minimized. The speed of steel bridge construction reduces the durations of rail possessions and road closures, which minimizes disruption to the public using those networks. The light-weight nature of steel permits the erection of large components, and in special circumstances complete bridges may be installed overnight.

Q What kind of safety measures are being adhered in the Hyderabad Metro?
A Hyderabad Metro, probably the world’s largest Metro Rail Project in PPP (public-private partnership), is in secant operational model. It is being implemented entirely on PPP basis, with the state government holding a minority equity stake. It has elevated world-class station buildings at approximately every kilometer. The advanced signaling and train control technology, communication based train control (CBTC), is adopted for Hyderabad Metro to control the trains. Hyderabad Metro would be first in India to claim train control by CBTC technology. The trains can run with headway of 90 seconds to meet commuters demand during office peak hours in morning and in evening.

The trains shall run on Automatic Train Operation (ATO) mode which is the normal mode of operation of trains. The Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system continuously monitors safe train operation and initiates necessary action, if a train doesn’t perform as desired. All vital train borne equipment’s are highly safe and redundant to avoid any unwanted interruption of train service. The station equipments e.g. computer based interlocking (CBI), wayside ATP etc. are vital signaling equipments, and redundantly arranged to ensure safe and uninterrupted train operation. Passenger emergency stop plungers are provided on each platform and in station control room (SCR) to stop a train immediately in case of emergency.

Q How do you assess the future of Metro Rail in our country?
A Every city is unique in terms of its history, design, architecture, transportation character and layout. A city has to grow and evolve through a coordinated effort aimed at progress, while conserving its history and heritage. Progress will become structurally purposeful, ethically meaningful and economically sustainable only when it is achieved through a people-partnered process.

Creating a world-class Metro rail infrastructure in a congested and regulation-heavy city like Delhi was a daunting task. With 2 million people hitching a ride every day, Delhi Metro Rail has become a new way of life. As the Delhi Metro covers more ground, more and more people have shifted to this mode of transport. Some 200 trains cover 70,000 km everyday on 190-km-long metro corridors in Delhi. The numbers can only increase once another 140 km in new lines are added by 2016. The Delhi Metro saves 2 million barrels every year by taking petrol and diesel vehicles off the roads. Given that the oil price averaged around $100 per barrel until a few months ago, this means an annual saving of $200 million or Rs 1,200 crore.

The Namma Metro is a truly global service. Everything about it is international class; the air-conditioned coaches, the stations and the lush green stretches through which it passes in gentle curves. Trains run from 6 am in the morning till 10 pm in the night. The trains run at a frequency of 15 minutes from 6 am to 8 am in the morning, and 8 pm to 10 pm in night, and with frequency of 10 minutes from 8 am to 8 pm.

Mumbai Metro can carry around 280-300 passengers per coach as opposed to the Monorail which has a capacity of 145-160 passengers per coach. It will initially run with 4 coaches, but, would later boast of 6 coaches. The Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar stretch has 12 stations and the trains will travel at an average speed of 60-80 kmph.

The metro fever is catching up in smaller cities, thanks largely to the success of Delhi Metro. Cities like Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Bhopal are making a case for metro, even though they don’t qualify because of the population cut-off.

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