Deccan Pride

01 Jul 2020 Long Read

With Corridor 2—the 11-km Green Line stretch from JBS Parade Ground (JBS) to Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS)—of the Hyderabad Metro Rail project becoming operational, it becomes the second largest operational metro network in the country covering 69.2 km (Corridor 1 from Miyapur to LB Nagar: 29.2 km; Corridor 2 from JBS to MGBS: 11 km; Corridor 3 from Nagole to Raidurgam: 29 km). With a total project cost of about Rs 200 billion, the world's largest PPP, the Hyderabad Metro Rail, is already playing a key role in the growth and development of the city.

Salient features

Covering a length of 11 km, the Green Line of Corridor 2 connects the twin cities, Secunderabad and Hyderabad, from JBS to MGBS on the Musi River. There are a total of nine stations in this line. With the opening of the Green Line, travel time is reduced to 16 minutes from one end to the other, compared to 45 minutes via road.

The stations

JBS and MGBS are interchange stations, with JBS near the second largest bus terminus in the city. JBS Station is one of the tallest in the project with five levels: street, lower concourse, upper concourse, lower platform and upper platform. The station has been designed as a portal frame-type RCC structure with columns on either side of the road and another in the central median. Entry and exit structures have been provided to facilitate easy approach to the passengers coming from JBS. One entry-exit connects to the Corridor 3 Parade Grounds Station (interchange) through a skywalk. The Secunderabad West and Gandhi Hospital stations have four entry-exits from all directions with lifts and escalators, apart from staircases.

The star station

Spread over 3 lakh sq ft, Hyderabad’s Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station Interchange metro station is one of the country’s largest, with several outstanding features. Uniquely built, it houses the interchange of two corridors (Corridor 2 – JBS to MGBS at the higher level and Corridor 1 – Miyapur to LB Nagar at the lower level). “There are three levels with each level again split into two, as one corridor passes over the other; in this passenger-friendly station, passengers can easily and smoothly transit from one corridor to the other,” says KVB Reddy, Managing Director & CEO, L&T Hyderabad Metro Rail.

The station has been entirely conceptualised and executed in-house by the L&TMRHL team. It is 142-m long and 60-m wide and designed spaciously to accommodate retail outlets, entertainment zones and convenience outlets at the concourse level. The concourse level can be used to cross over from one end of the Musi watercourse to the other by pedestrians for convenient movement. The platform level of Corridor 2 is at a height of 23 m and the roof at 33 m. The roof is designed with tetrahedron-supported columns to resemble a modern airport that is placed at the edge, for unobstructed view and enhanced aesthetics. The intermediate floors between the slabs accommodate the technical services. The station has two entry-exits and wide skywalks from both sides of the waterfront for passenger convenience. An additional entry-exit is at the foot of the existing bus facility for alighting passengers arriving from the station along with four escalators and two lifts. The main area of the station is magnificently adorned with jaguar brown granite flooring. The integrated station has four lifts, 12 escalators and sufficient staircases. Further, a service connection can switch the movement of trains from Corridors 1 and 2.

Passenger facilities

All the stations are eco-friendly with natural light and ventilation and specially designed tactile paths for the blind and wheelchairs. First-aid facilities are readily available. All facilities at the stations are seamlessly integrated.

“Several of our initiatives are aimed to improve ride experience, like providing free water, free toilets, exclusive ladies section, cross-sell offers, complimentary newspapers, etc,” adds Reddy. “We have also introduced various last-mile connectivity options like electric vehicles, rent-a-bicycle services, cab aggregator and bus services at metro stations.”

Overcoming challenges

Evidently, a project of this nature and scale is likely to experience several challenges. Reddy highlights them below:
  • Preconstruction: Underground utilities with no readily available drawings led to many surprises; involvement of too many government agencies and lengthy procedures; clash of interest between various departments
  • Dealing with Railways/Defence: Long-drawn processes for approvals; support from the Telangana government, the Ministry of Railways and the Ministry of Defence
  • Land: Responsibility of procuring right of way (ROW) and land resting with the government resulted in delays; private acquisition difficult with lengthy procedures; risk for concessionaire if construction commences before availability of complete land parcels and unhindered availability of ROW; lack of continuous ROW in a linear project like a metro
  • Alignment finalisation: Limitation on sharp curve <130—as the viaduct passes through busy roads and the rolling stock cannot take sharp curves; frequent changes even after the finalisation of alignment necessitated owing to challenges in property acquisition
  • Design: Reworks because of uncertain ground features; standardisation of technical specifications and unification; frequent changes even after finalisation of design resulting owing to underground utility diversions and frequent changes in finalised alignments
  • Traffic management: Limited availability of ROW and limited road width in core areas of the city
  • Ridership: Lack of definitive data on the city’s ridership pattern that is mostly dependent on city development; first and last-mile connectivity with feeder services to the metro
  • Financial challenges: Volatile financial market; interest-rate fluctuations during construction; large foreign exchange exposure with volatility of Rs vs the US Dollar and Euro; risk of cost overrun—delays resulting in cost increase and inflation of inputs
  • Operation and maintenance risk.
  • Success galore

    Despite the challenges, the Hyderabad Metro Rail is an iconic Indian infrastructure project that has already triggered robust economic activity and transformed Hyderabad into one of India's most futuristic cities, with integrated urban transportation using inter-modal connectivity. Connecting major bus stations, rail terminals, malls and MMTS services, it is an efficient, safe, reliable and comfortable public transportation system laying emphasis on transit-oriented development (TOD), thus contributing significantly to improving the liveability index of the city.

    This metro project brings together best-in-class resources and technology in every aspect: stations, station planning, rolling stock, track work, depots, AFC, power supply, traction and SCADA system, signalling and train control system, telecom system and MEP. It has elevated world-class station buildings at approximately every kilometre. Further, the project has promoted a green and eco-friendly mode of travel—it reduces carbon emission, fuel consumption and pollution, and has 17 IGBC LEED Platinum-certified metro stations. The stations are designed to be user-friendly with lifts, staircases and facilities for the disabled.

    What’s more, the advanced signalling and train control technology, Communication-Based Train Control (CBTC), has been adopted by Hyderabad Metro. Notably, this is the first metro project in India to claim train control by CBTC technology. Also, the trains use regenerative electric braking, thereby converting momentum into electrical energy and feeding back to the power supply system while braking. This will reduce the energy requirement from the grid. Another highlight is the automatic fare collection system, which enables hassle-free entry and exit from the stations—the TSavaari App and QR Code ticketing system are proving to be a boon for commuters for hassle-free ticketing.

    “The completion of all three corridors will mark the beginning of an era of seamless and hassle-free commuting in Hyderabad,” concludes Reddy. “We are committed to enhance quality of life for the people through a sustainable transport network, integrated with vibrant urban spaces, making Hyderabad Metro an integral part of one’s daily life.”

    The model

    The Hyderabad Metro Rail project has seen the transformation of Larsen & Toubro (L&T) from contractor to concessionaire, a pioneering concept adopted for the first time in the world. As followed in Hong Kong and other metros, transit-oriented development (TOD) plays a significant role in L&T’s operations and maintenance (O&M) model, which also features intramodal transportation (physical, operational, fare integration) with emphasis on reliability, availability, maintainability and safety (RAMS) and customer satisfaction.

    L&T’s prime focus is on-life cycle costing, development of an efficient and lean organisation for O&M and building capability in a structured manner. Efficient project execution and O&M strategies, employment generation and skill development are significant features of this model, resulting in overall economic development.

    However, the continued success of PPP projects will depend on the introduction of system-based approval systems, better risk identification and mitigation, uniform technical specifications across the country and easy coordination between the various agencies involved, both at the Centre and state government levels.

    PPPs are all about balance: Maintaining equilibrium between the public and private, risk and reward, cost and impact. A PPP structure ensures better value for money, higher performance incentives, faster construction, cost-effective delivery, and well-defined accountability with the risk on the PPP player. With respect to metro-rail projects, it is important to have a robust model for execution with a clear change of mindset of all concerned. A robust mechanism for redressal and risk sharing is essential.


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