KEY TAKEAWAYS - UITP INDIA SEMINAR ON 'METRO RAIL PROJECTS - A FUTURE PERSPECTIVE'

UITP India organised a seminar on "Metro Rail Projects - A Future Perspective" on 15-16 December 2017 in New Delhi, with support from Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). The event was a big success as more than 20 speakers and 120 delegates from 10 countries participated in the event, representing authorities, municipal corporations, metro operators (public and private), rolling stock companies, new mobility players and industry. 

As per UITP Metro Statistics (2015), there are 169 metro systems in the world, out of which 81 systems are more than 30 years old. Pace of development of Metro and Light rail solutions increased over the last two decades, with Asia contributing to approx. 50% of all world metro developmentsEven in India, metro systems are developing at a rapid pace with 400 km across 10 cities either operational or under construction and another 500 km across 40 cities at planning and conceptual stage. India should increase pace of development of public transport across India to serve increase urban travel needs. 

MoHUA launched a "Metro Rail Policy 2017" to provide enabling ecosystem for metro development across the country and enabling more private investment in metros. Earlier metro projects were funded by the federal government or state government or Federal & State together. The projects have typically been supported by multilateral agencies via G2G lending frameworks including Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) loans. Given the shift in focus under the new Metro Rail Policy, reliance on private investment will become imperative to support the upcoming metro rail projects in the country. More PPP (Public Private Partnership) projects are coming up like Mumbai and Hyderabad. 

Metro systems around the world are facing similar challenges related to project delivery and funding besides other points. Similarly, the metro systems are facing the impact from emerging trends. The next decades of metro development will shape up on the basis of these threats and emerging trends.

Some of key takeaways of the seminar as follow:

1. Metro is not an engineering problem. It’s a mobility solution. Therefore people should be the centre of decision making while deciding on metro and during its operation. Metro systems lead to development of the cities and create more opportunities. The cities should introduce restrictive measures to promote the use of public transport. In Vienna, there is parking restrictions in more than 80% of the city, i.e. drivers cannot park more than 3 hours anywhere.

2. Metro not the answer to all urban mobility challenges. Need to integrate with other modes of transport like buses and cycling. So, other modes of public transport should also be promoted. Metro is the backbone of the city, trams for lower density areas and buses can serve as access to metro. Chennai Metro followed multi-modal network approach, and integrating metro service with railway station and airport. Further, Chennai Metro is promoting the use of non-motorised modes including walkable footpaths and cycle tracks for access to metro.

3. Metros can help rejuvenate core-areas of Metropolitan cities which have become overly congested and inaccessible by private transport over the years. There are many examples to show that the city area with metro network witnessed economic growth in various commercial activities owing to better access like Chandni Chowk area in Delhi.

4. Rail-based transport plays a major role in metropolitan and suburban areas, as mobility needs are high and options are few. National Capital Region (NCR) will have population of 64 million by 2021, with total land area of 60,000 sq. km. Indian railways does not focus on local passengers and discourage them on long-distance trains. O the other hand, bus transport is not sufficient and up to mark, which lead to proliferation of private vehicles. Thus, there is strong need to rapid rail system across all major cities. NCRPB (National Capital Region Planning Board) is developing 5 corridors, connecting Delhi with other key satellite towns. In the first phase, 3 corridors are planned with 400 kms length. The system will have designed speed of 180 kmph and will run at average speed of 100 kmph. Rapid rail system will induce demand and creates poly-centric development. The economic activity will move out of city and will lead to a balance development in the region.

5. Metro can also be seen as a prime mode to connect two cities / towns to promote economic growth of cities. Metro link between Ahmedabad - Gandhinagar in Gujarat is good example. Ahmedabad is financial capital of Gujarat and Gandhinagar is emerging as education and IT city. Further, GIFT (Gujarat International Finance Tec-City) is also coming up between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. After the completion of metro link, it will lead to more development of complete stretch. 

6. Metro requirements different in different cities. Smaller cities may not recover their capital costs on Metro systems and may at best recover O&M costCities planning for Metros should take cognisance of it. Only metropolitan cities may recover capital. Thus, the cities should explore other options for rail-based transport like Light Rail, Cable Cars etc.

7. Light Rail System can be good for small and medium-sized cities in India, which do not have sufficient demand. In different cities, Light Rail systems are implemented to serve specific purpose, such as:

7a) Feeder service to Metro lines - Singapore and Shenzhen (China)

7b) Urban rejuvenation catalyst in pedestrian areas and deprived / isolated areas

7c) Clean and silent transport for historic / tourist areas - Munich (Germany)

7d) Orbital route to radical metro networks - Paris (France) / Barcelona (Spain)

MosgortansNIIproject (research and design institute of urban transport in Russia) analysed Delhi city's transportation system and prepared a transport macro model. The institute recommended light rail network for the city of Delhi. The proposed project will significantly improve the connectivity of Delhi's urban transport systems and can handle more than 200,000 passengers per day. Further, road traffic congestion in city center can decrease by 12% and the passenger flow on the bus network can increase by 10%.

8. Similarly, ropeway system can be another alternative for smaller and medium cities, or can work as feeder line in major cities. Top supported ropeways systems have capacity of 5,000 PPHPD and bottom supported ropeway system have capacity upto 10,000 PPHPD. The average cost for Mono Cable ropeway is around EUR 10-15 million / km and can be completed in 12-24 months. In City of Medellin (Colombia), the authority has metro network and tram lines. The city is constructing ropeway system as feeder to existing metro lines to cover the suburban areas. 
 
9. Multi-modal integration is key for Metros to maximise ridership. There is need to create nodal agency to coordinate the development of urban rail and other transport projects in the city. For example, Metro, Trams and Buses are operated by integrated public transport company in Vienna. In India, different agencies are responsible for different modes of transport, which lead to conflicting priorities. 

10. Inter-agency co-ordination is identified as the major bottleneck for multi-modal integration across all Indian cities. Metro operators can use data on current and future travel patterns from Planning Department to plan for future development. In Vienna, Planning Department of the city works with Wiener Linien (transport agency) to identify new township coming up in future. For example, New Lake Town will be established by 2024 in Vienna, serving 50,000 residents and 30,000 jobs. Wiener Linien has introduced new line to connect the new township, using old railway and freight yards. 

11. Delhi Metro is pioneer of Metro Rail Project in India, with network of 230 kms. DMRC has identified 'Corridor Selection' as one of the key factor for project viability. The corridor selection should be based on passenger traffic and mass transit (like BRT or Railways) should not compete with each other. In Phase I and Phase II, some of DMRC corridors were not viable as they were parallel to railway lines. 

12. India should standardise and indigenise Metro technologies according to our needs and thereby contribute to ‘Make in India’. In due course, Indian metro companies should serve other Asian countries. MoHUA is compiling best practices of Metros and there are many such good practices from first 6-7 metro companies. For example, Ahmedabad Metro is learning from the experience of its predecessors by achieving 10% cost reduction in civil, electrical systems and track work. In civil, Ahmedabad Metro is using Grade 540 steel instead of Grade 265. Also, it is using M60 grade concrete for the construction. Similarly, 100% transformer standby is not required, and can be segregated and divided into phases. Length of metro station is limit to 140 meters. 

13. Most of India cities are currently expanding or building new metro network. It is important to learn from international counterparts also. UITP Metro Committee and sub-committee is an appropriate forum to learn from other cities around the world. UITP Operation Sub-Committee members collaborate to share their knowledge and experience with each other. Some of the key topics covered recently included configuration of OCC, track configuration of metros, interior design of metro trains, passenger behaviour, technology to provide real-time information to customers and employees, psychological suitability in metro operation and role of metro system in development of cities. 

14. Operation & Maintenance (O&M) is a critical component of good metro system. The cities should check if they can outsource some O&M expenditure. For example, Navi Mumbai is looking to outsource O&M component. There are different contractual model exists around the world, including Long-term service agreement (Manila LRT), O&M Gross cost (Seoul Metro L9), O&M Cost plus Fee (Mumbai Metro), Net Cost and Full risk (HK Tramways). Private operators bring their experience and expertise to streamline the operation and achieve efficiency. 
 
15. Broadly, there are 3 major cost components of metro operation - Staff (~40%), Electricity / Water (~30%) and Parts / Maintenance Contract (~30%). In case of outsourced operation, the authority can achieve better efficiency by optimising contractual framework and seeking delivery excellence.  Some of key components of contractual framework include: (a) long term contract, (b) early involvement of the operator during construction phase, (c) give full O&M scope, (d) minimum revenue guarantee in case of net cost, (e) KPI based incentives in case of gross cost, and (f) mutually agreed cost reduction framework. Similarly, delivery excellence should focus on (a) preventive and predictive maintenance to reduce the impact of failures and (b) trained staff to face any situation. The operator should look for roster optimisation, multi-skilling staff, demand management and obsolescence management to achieve better cost efficiencies.
 
16. Government of India is pushing for more private investment in urban rail sector. New Metro Rail Policy made PPP component mandatory for availing central assistance for new metro projects either for complete provision of metro rail or for some unbundled components like Operation & Maintenance of services etc. Thus, the evolving PPP framework needs to ascertain that the projects are bankable and risks are appropriately distributed between public and the private partner. However, private investments would need to tap into alternative financing solutions, especially commercial finance. Developing long-term contracts and concession agreements with adequate flexibility for innovation are highlighted as key requirements for efficiency financing. Financial institutions such as KfW Development Bank are financing urban rail projects under different channels:
 
16a) Promotional loan under Indo-German cooperation: Currently, project worth EUR 3.6 billion under implementation and current annual commitment is EUR 1.0 billion. This funding is provided for the government driven projects like Metro, LRT etc. 
 
16b) Export Credit Agency: Buyer credit is provided on tailor made projects i.e. rolling stock etc. if the supplier is European. The agency provide loan for the tenure of 14 years, with repayment every 6 months. 
 
16c) Rolling Stocks PPP: The agency provides funding for the procurement of Rolling Stock including Depot Construction. Metro systems in Australia are the best example under this model. In order to extend similar facility to metro project in India, some amendments will be required in the contract like minimum revenue guarantee, termination compensation payments, no unspecific change of scope, appropriate deadlines for financial closures and clearly defined maintenance works etc. 
 
17. Metro operators should create policy framework to meet sustainability criteria, as well as, reduce operating cost. For example, Delhi Metro has prepared various sustainability policies. With the new solar policy, Delhi Metro is looking to reduce their electricity cost. Currently, the energy cost of Delhi Metro is around 35% of the total operating cost. It has commissioned 20 MW (14% of total consumption) roof-top solar power plants and is targeting to achieve 50 MW by 2021. Delhi Metro has entered into 25 years power purchase agreement (PPA) and provided the roof-top space at metro stations. All capital and operation expenditures are incurred by private players. This initiative has helped to reduce the electricity cost of Delhi Metro, as solar power is 10-15% cheaper compared to normal electricity procured from energy companies. Similarly, Mumbai Metro has installed waste water treatment plant and rain water harvesting, which help to achieve 20% and 50% water usage saving respectively. 
 
 
18. Promotional and Marketing activities is important to popularise mass transport and compete with private vehicles. Delhi Metro Airport Express Line revived it operations by implementating right marketing strategy, including (a) awareness campaign in vicinity of stations, government offices and residential societies, (b) email campaign to exisiting customers about fare reduction and connectivity, (c) installation of signage at different stations, and (d) renting out stations space for commercial activities and office spaces. The strong link between marketing activities and ridership/revenue is shown below:
 
 
19. Automation of metro operation is one of the common emerging developments across the world. The key benefits for automation are flexibility, reliability, efficiency and safety. Driverless metro operation can help to reduce labour cost and can increase asset utilisation. Currently, only 6% of metro kms are automated. However, all new lines are introduced with CBTC technology and it is expected that the growth of automated metro lines will be 4 times in next decade. UITP has created Observatory of Automated Metros to monitor, study and disseminate information related to automated metro. 
 

20. Information technology is playing a greater role in urban rail system and the operators are switching from "Automated Metro" to "Digital Metro". Digitatisation is impacting 3 key areas - Operational Control Centre (OCC), Maintenance and Fare collection. JR East shared the examples of use of technology in their organisation:

20a) Autonomous Decentralised Transport Operation System (ATOS): JR East has setup independent ATOS at key stations which control the network, without having physical manpower at each station. With the implementation of ATOS, JR East reduced its manpower and centralised the operation.

20b) Smart Maintenance: With the use of technology, JR East has shifted from 'Time-based Maintenance' to 'Condition-based Maintenance'. For example, the company used to measure track irregularity by inspection car every 3 months and to inspect track fastening material by sight inspection every year. Now, the company conducts measurement of track irregularity and inspection of track fastening material every day, using monitoring equipment installed on commercial train. The sensors are installed to monitor track and catenary, which raise an alarm in case of any variation. 

20c) Fare Collection: JR East introduced Suica payment card in 2001. The company is shifting towards mobile payment system and launched Mobile Suica in January 2006. Suica card became compatible with smartphones in July 2011. The usage of mobile Suica is growing rapidly. 

Way Forward

There are many more learnings from the metro seminar. However, the seminar helped to bring forward some of the areas where the authorities and operators will require further support, like:

a) Capacity building for contract agreements and managing concessionaires

b) Training programs on Automated Metro Operation (GoA 3/4)

c) Use of big data and business intelligence in metro operations 

d) Innovation in rolling stocks and maintenance 

e) Ticketing solutions and demand management