2020 Recap: Progress of India’s Metro & High-Speed Rail Systems
Hot damn, what a crazy year right?
COVID-19 obviously changed how we do a lot of things in 2020. This includes travel. Air and rail-based travel was non-existent for a while, and even now, ridership across India’s metro systems has reached only about 20-25% of pre-COVID levels due to valid health-related concerns including changing work habits. On the construction front, supply chains got disrupted due to the lockdown, but work picked back up in Q3 and India now continues marching ahead.
Through this quick recap post, I wanted to share some highlights, observations, thoughts for next year and ways you can support me.
First, here’s a quick snapshot of how things stand at the end of 2020. A detailed table with a breakdown of figures can be viewed here.
- Operational Routes: 678.48 km
- Under Construction Routes: 485.89 km
- Approved Routes: 515.56 km
- Proposed Routes: 1041 km
- Operationalization of 31.07 km of new metro lines in 5 cities – 11 km in Nagpur (Aqua Line), 9.6 km in Hyderabad (Green Line; last section of Phase 1), 7 km in Kolkata (Line-2), 2.35 km in Jaipur (Phase 1B), 1.12 km in Kochi (last section of Phase 1).
- Commencement of trial runs (testing) on 18.96 km of new metro lines in 3 cities – 5.799 km in Bengaluru (6.29 km R4B of Green Line), 9.051 km in Chennai (Phase 1 Extension), and 4.11 km in Kolkata (Line-1 extension)
- Start of construction for 80.26 km of new metro lines in 7 cities – 4 km in Agra (part of Line-1), 26.34 km in Delhi (DC-02, DC-03R, DC-04 & DC-06 packages of Phase 4), 2.94 km in Kochi (Phase 1A & 1B), 3 km in Meerut (part of RRTS), 14.55 km in Mumbai (Line-9/Line-7A), 6.1 km in Patna (part of L-2) and 23.33 km in Pune (Line-3). Now of course work hasn’t started at all sites within these sections, but for tracking purposes I’ve allocated the entire package whenever piling work begins otherwise things will become hairy quite quickly.
That’s not all. Among the exciting developments – we also saw new rolling stock designs being unveiled for Bangalore Metro’s Yellow and Purple/Green lines by CRRC and Delhi-Meerut RRTS project by Bombardier. In 2021, I’m looking forward to seeing train designs of Agra & Kanpur metros by Bombardier, Meerut Metro by Bombardier, and Mumbai Metro Line-4’s MRS2 design by a manufacturer that is yet to be revealed.
Overall a good year despite the pandemic, but I’m disappointed with how things are being handled in Gurugram, Hyderabad, and Mumbai – either due to inane politics or insipid, lethargic state governments. In 2021, I’m really looking forward to seeing work star on Ahmedabad’s Phase 2, Bengaluru’s Phase 2A and 2B, Chennai’s Phase 2 as well as Surat Metro’s Phase 1.
High Speed Rail
After returning from my hiatus in January 2020, I was surprised that literally no ground work had started on either Bangalore Metro’s 18 km Phase 2A or on the big-ticket 508 km Mumbai – Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project. It was great to see how quickly NHSRCL’s tendering committee completed technical bid evaluation to enable the award of two big contracts this quarter. I look forward to civil work starting in 2021!
When it comes to the other 7 HSR corridors planned by the government, tracking bidders and winners for low-value contracts is all fun and games, but ultimately their actual development lies in the hands of the government. The creation of individual DPRs is a step in the right direction though. In 2021, I hope either the government or NHSRCL rolls out a blueprint of their plans and then aggressively works towards execution.
There’s a lot that goes behind the scenes of India’s metro organizations and construction sites. Some of them gets reported, but others cannot due to reasons. Here are a few:
Worker safety continues to be lax. Despite contractors having dedicated safety teams (those seen in green hard hats), I often see workers not using appropriate personal protection equipment, masks or boots. Ultimately everyone is responsible for their own safety, but more money needs to be allocated from construction budgets. I hear or read about casualties on a monthly basis.
Metro organizations continue to kow-tow to their MD, government officials and event chief guests. The recent TBM breakthrough in Mumbai on December 16 was originally planned to take place on the 15th. Banners were ready, workers were stoked, but the chief guest didn’t show up. And this is after the TBM had already reached Dadar Station’s diaphragm wall on the 10th. Does a 6 day delay matter in the long run? Absolutely not. But it is an unnecessary delay that demoralizes workers that could have been avoided. This isn’t the first time this happened in Mumbai. The same behavior is witnessed across India and needs to stop.
Metro organizations continue to be less transparent to their biggest stakeholders, us – the riders, about their operational game plan in an effort to not upset the local state government’s PR game. CMRL, BMRCL and MMRDA are the biggest offenders here which continue to make tall claims. It’s a long shot, but I hope there’s some improvement on this front in 2021.
Support the Site
As always, here’s a big thanks to all followers who continue to support me through PayPal or bring news, images and tips to my attention. It’s exciting to read through your messages and see construction site images.
In 2021, in addition to metro and high speed rail projects, I am planning to track contracts of big-ticket projects being executed across India. This includes projects related to bridges, airports and perhaps expressways. Let’s see…
The site runs on a very old simple theme (including WordPress and PHP versions) which I suspect doesn’t get much love from Google, so I’m planning to migrate to a newer theme. If you come across a theme you like or know anyone who can design a custom theme, please shoot me a message. If you have any other suggestions, even something as simple as re-arranging the menu bar – then please let me know!
I hope my blog has been useful to you in 2020. If you like what I do and would like to support the site in other ways besides PayPal, then here are some things you can do:
- Tell other people about the site: The biggest Thank You you can give me is a recommendation – whether it is a personal recommendation, sharing links on social media or just sharing my links when relevant on different sites.
- Tell me about updates I miss: It’s difficult to cover each update out there, so if you see something that you think would fit on the site (e.g construction update, milestone, contract award or notice inviting tenders), then simply drop me a message via the contact page to let me know! For instance, there are at least 7 RRTS system packages (Eg. P12B, P16, P21, P22), that I know of, where I don’t know which firm won.
- Tell me if something is inaccurate: I want the site to be 100% accurate at all times. If you’ve found something factually incorrect within a post or a project information page, then just drop me a comment or message, and appropriate changes will be made.
- Connect with me: If you work with an organization (public or private) that is connected to India’s metro and HSR industry – then please drop me message. It would be nice to connect and expand my network.
As always, for free instant email notifications on new posts, subscribe here. For the full TMRG experience, I’d recommend you to follow or at least bookmark my Twitter page where I not only share all posts from the site, but also other news, images and videos (example) which can’t fit into a post.
To wrap up – I’m just happy to be back, after my hiatus, to writing and bringing unique and interesting updates to all of you. I don’t know what 2021 holds for me personally, but I hope to maintain the momentum I’ve rebuilt this year.
Stay safe and hope you all have an amazing New Year! 🙂