JK Rajan, Sr Vice President, Mobility & Industrial Services, T_V S_D South Asia, speaks on how proper studies can avoid technical snags that hamper smooth mobility in urban transport solutions.
With cities opting for Metro rail projects, how do you see the growth of the Metro rail network in the country?
The success of Metro rail networks in major Indian metropolitan cities has triggered the idea of establishing a similar model in the other upcoming Tier II cities. The Metro rail network in Delhi has eased travel for over 2.5 million daily commuters. Around 200 trains on the Delhi Metro network cover 70,000 km on the 190 km long corridor on a daily basis. This network has helped save cumulative fuel costs of approximately Rs 523 crore since 2002. Not just fuel, the savings in terms of the time invested in travelling are estimated at Rs 2,978 crore. This presents immense scope for mid-sized and smaller cities to adopt this concept. It is very encouraging to see cities like Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Bhopal implementing Metro rail projects, despite not qualifying for it because of the population cut-offs. The Ministry of Urban Development plans to consider Metro rail proposals for at least 12 Tier-II cities. We believe that the next big leap in development of urban mobility will be driven by the Metro rail network that is set to grow manifold in the years to come.
The pressure on the existing lines has often created situations of frequent snags and breakdowns. What do you think can be done to avoid this scenario in the future?
The pressure of growing population often leads to short turnaround time for maintenance and repair. This makes it critical for rail networks in the country to adhere to ideal operational conditions right from the onset. Most systemic technical snags are caused due to:
- Signalling failure
- Dropping of track circuit
- Overhead Head Electrification
- Failure of traction transformers
- Power supply system integration imbalances
- Rolling stock issues.
Such snags can be avoided to a large extent through detailed risk and safety assessments. Studies like RAMS or Independent Safety Assessments and Risk Analysis of safety-relevant functions should be carried out during all phases of implementation including the operational stages. Third party agencies with global expertise in risk analysis, of such mega technical infrastructure, such as TUV SUD, can help avoid technical snags that impact mobility. We have a wealth of global technical experience in assessing the risk of complex rail systems and can help networks operate seamlessly. Partnering with specialised agencies also help networks ensure safety and reliability and reduce technical and commercial risks and irregularities.
Tell us about TUV SUDÂ´s expertise in urban Metro systems. What are the services you offer?
We offer services for the design and build stages as well as the operational stage which covers rail infrastructure like power systems, signaling and rolling stock. Additionally, we offer consulting, inspection and testing services in the sector. These cover simulation studies from RAMS to design reviews and independent safety assessments.
What learning can we take from the Metro rail projects already executed to develop sustainable and profitable Metro rail networks?
Basis our experience of already executed projects in India, we recommend the following:
- Independent safety assessments, frequent RAMS and design validations in order to capture the data and information generated from the maintenance programmes;
- New designs for extensions can be linked to the performance results of technical specifications;
- Independent design reviews of systems;
These can be implemented in a phased and exponential manner by involving accredited inspection agencies in addition to relying on the expertise of general or design consultants.
With smart cities gaining prominence, what kind of role do you see Metro rail playing in the development of urban infrastructure?
Metro rail in India has become a boon for citizens. Intra-city commuting has become much easier and has reduced the traffic snarls during peak hours. However, there are other factors, such as population density, affordability and finally the intensity of commuter traffic. All these have to be taken into account for a Metro rail to be viable in a city. Today, urban transport and city planning are seen as distinct divisions, although they will have to merge to enable an efficient and viable system. Of IndiaÂ´s 5,400 towns and cities, about 100 require a 21st century urban transportation system. The government plans to introduce Metro rail projects in all cities which have population of more than 2 million. This will result in major fuel cost savings and in turn also prevent emission of greenhouse gases.
We support the governmentÂ´s initiative to introduce Metro rails in major cities. These are positive growth signs as the new Metro projects will boost IndiaÂ´s infrastructure. However, at the same time, the government must also ensure that the existing projects are not ignored.
What safety and security measures would you recommend for these urban mobility vehicles?
We recommend the following measures across every phase:
- System Integration
- Train Control System(ETCS)
- Interlocking technologies studies
- Network studies of dimensioning of power supply system
- Risk Analysis of Safety relevant functions are to be done during all phases of implementations. E.g., RAMS studies
- Safety assessments of rolling stock.
– Garima Pant