With Corridor 2-the 11-km Green Line stretch from JBS Parade Ground (JBS) to Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS)-going operational, the Hyderabad Metro Rail Project 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 and the world's largest metro project in a PPP mode, the Hyderabad Metro Rail is already playing a key role in the growth and development of the city.
The 11-km-long Green Line of Corridor 2 with nine stations connects the twin cities of Secunderabad and Hyderabad, from JBS to MGBS on the Musi River, and reduces travel time to just 16 minutes, end to end, compared to 45 minutes by road.
MGBS -The star station
Spread over 3 lakh sq ft, the Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station Interchange 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 - Miyapurto 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, 60-m-wide and designed spaciously to accommodate retail outlets, entertainment zones and convenience outlets at the concourse level, from where one can cross over from one end of the Musi watercourse to the other. The platform level of Corridor 2 is at a height of 23 m and the roof that is at 33 m is designed with tetrahedron-supported columns placed at the edge to resemble a modern airport, 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.
JBS - Parade Ground Station
Spread over 2 lakh sq ft, Parade Ground Interchange Metro station is one of the prominent metro stations in the country with many special features. Considering the topographical features of the location, the stations - Parade Grounds on Blue line and JBS Parade Ground on Green line are engineered to build in perpendicular directions, integrated with a skywalk for seamless movement of passengers from one corridor to another.
The station box is 140-m-long and 25-m-wide and the station has five levels namely street, lower Concourse-1, lower Concourse-2, Upper Concourse and Platform levels. Around 10,520 cu m of concrete and 1,200 MT of steel was used in the construction. Designed spaciously, the station accommodates retail outlets, entertainment zones and convenience outlets spread in multiple levels spread over 33,000 sq ft area. Platform level is at 28.5 m height and roof level at 35.7 m. The roof has been designed for unobstructed view. The station has four lifts, 16 escalators, sufficient number of staircases and 68 cameras for end to end surveillance The station, JBS Parade Ground, is a terminal station on the Green line (JBS to MGBS). The station is remotely located next to second largest bus terminus in the city.
All the stations are eco-friendly with natural light, ventilation and specially designed tactile paths for the blind and are wheelchair-friendly. All facilities, including medical, are readily available and seamlessly integrated.
"Several of our initiatives are 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."
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.
Land: Responsibility of procuring right of way (ROW) and land resting with the government resulted delay in acquisition of private properties, due to changes in land acquisition law; 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 û 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 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.
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 features elevated world-class station buildings at approximately every kilometre. Further, the project has promoted a green and eco-friendly mode of travel by reducing 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 Savaari 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 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 intra modal transportation (physical, operational, fare integration) with emphasis on reliability, availability, maintainability, 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 across the board. A robust mechanism for redressal and risk sharing is also essential.
- SERAPHINA D'SOUZA