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An alternative to Rapid Rail Transport Corporation for transport need of National Capital Region

By on October 23, 2013

The ministries of urban development and railway and the state governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan have agreed to form a company called National Capital Region Transport Corp. (NCRTC) that will help the construction of a high-speed rail network to connect various cities in the expanding national capital region (NCR) of Delhi and its environs. In its first phase, NCRTC will build three corridors connecting Delhi to Panipat (111 Km ) in Haryana , Alwar (180 Km) in Rajasthan, and Meerut (90 Km) in Uttar Pradesh, at a cost of Rs.72,000 crore. This cost is based on the feasibility report prepared in 2011 and the cost will certainly revised up.

Critical Analysis of DPR

There is a complete lack of good sense of judgement in planning rail transport project to meet the fast transportation need of passengers living in cities within a radius of 60-80 Km around Delhi. The salient features with critical comments on the detailed project report (DPR) of three corridors namely are as follows:
  • There is a failure to distinguish Urban Transport demand with suburban transport demand. The average distance between two stations works out to be about 10 Km and fits in the category of suburban network. The DMRC success story was for urban transport and cannot be replicated for sub-urban transport.
  • The detail project report has been prepared for three corridors covering a distance of 381 Km at a a cost of Rs. 72000 Crs expecting a rider ship of 1.63 million(0.163 Crs) per day with approximate fare structure at the rate of Rs. 1/Km. This works out to capital investment of Rs.4.41 lakhs per daily passenger.
  • This investment is only for transportation of passenger and nil freight transport. The line will be used maximum of 16 hours a day. Is it not a colossal waste?
  • While estimating the ridership, it is presumed that considerable passenger from rail and road will transfer to Rapid Rail Transport System. Height of imagination! The fare structure of RRTC will   certainly be two or three times that of Indian Railways. Will it suit the daily commuters who only have to pay for 15 journeys a month by buying monthly season tickets. Overestimation of ridership will result similar fate as that of Airport line.
  • Fare structure has been compared with that of Shatabadi Trains. There is an almost negligible traffic by train like Shatabadi in sub-urban network. Commuter traffic only prefers to travel by train. Non-commuter traffic prefers bus or personal car. Personal car had the distinct advantage of covering the urban network also conveniently and cost about Rs.3/Km at the present level of fuel prices. The bus fare structure is around Rs. 1/Km and taking the passenger into the interior of city. Will there be a real shift or just imagination?
  • Beware of traffic forecast – A new double decker train started from Indore to Bhopal and the passenger traffic did not pick up more then 10% only because the passenger have other alternative travel second class non-ac coach.

Indore-Bhopal Double Decker train, one of the ambitious projects of the railways, has failed to attract passengers even during Diwali festivities. 
The train which was started on September 27 had a capacity to ferry 1320 passengers at one go. However, it was getting average 100 passengers/day.Following this, the railways reduced number of coaches from 11 to three after a fortnight of ride.The Railways was expecting to run the train full of its capacity of 360 passengers in three coaches during the five days Diwali festival. However the train between Indore and Bhopal via Dewas received only 456 passengers and the train between Bhopal and Indore via Ujjain received 569 passengers between November 1 and 5.


Have the Authorities discussed alternatives?

There are alternatives to develop sub-urban network just at 1/6th of the projected cost of NCRTC i.e. @ Rs.33 Crs./Km without much hassles in creating the infrastructure like land acquisition, delays etc. Look at the success story of MRVC given a gigantic target of improving sub-urban network of Mumbai ( in and around 80 Km) and similar follow up by Kerala Govt. Let us explore the possibility of working out a similar scheme for Delhi-Meerut network.

  • As per the estimation of 16.3 lakhs rider ship daily, on pro-rata (per Kilometer)  basis it will be 3.4 lakhs on Delhi-Meerut  network.
    • DMRC (urban network) carries about 22 lakh passengers on a network of 191 Km i.e. 11500 passenger/km of the network. Sub-urban network will be carrying one fourth of the urban network ( mainly due to higher distance between two stations)  i.e. 3000 passenger/Km. This works out to 1.8 lakhs passenger for Delhi-Meerut network.
    • The latest 12 car stock  for  Mumbai sub-urban network manufactured at ICF is having the capacity of 1168 sitting and 4862 standing i.e. app. 500 passenger/coach.  All stations in this route can be modified to accommodate 15 car rake i.e. 7500 passenger/rake. With 7500 passengers per train  during peak hours, average density may be around 3750 passenger/train, thus  requiring 48 trains i.e. 24 trains each way. This equal to 48×70=3360 Rake.Km. With estimated earning of 560 Km/rake, the additional rake requirement will be 7, taking one as maintenance rake.
    • 15 car rake shall cost Rs. 100 Crs. as per the latest costing of ICF rake, thus requiring only 700 Crs. for additional rake.
    • It is important that even for this much of ridership, feeder services by road has to be effective and efficient. It may be desirable to run feeder bus services and thus an additional investment of Rs. 50 Crs.
    • Total 750 Crs.
  • Slide show of MRVC funded ICF manufactured by Bombardier supplied electric propulsion system for the Mumbai Suburban Area

  • Delhi-Meerut network is about 70 Km on an existing Indian Railway network with about 10 stations. This is a double line section with both lines electrified on 25kV Traction system. All stations are located at loop line and stopping train has to negotiate turn-out at 30 kmph thus taking much time for stopping and start. This is a major hindrance in any effort to improve average speed.
    • The double line section be quadrupled i.e. four lines two adjacent lines of Up direction and other two adjacent lines for den direction trains.
    • Loop lines of a station is joined  longitudinally with the loop line of the adjacent station thus making the double line section to quadruple section with no loop line similar to 4 line section without any loop that existing in Mumbai Sub-urban for almost a century and meeting the long distance, sub-urban and urban traffic need successfully.
    • This will not need any major remodeling at stations which is generally the cause of most of the delays.
    • End lines will cater for commuter trains stopping at all stations and middle lines for long distance mail/express, galloping fast commuter trains and freight trains. The train will be received at platform line on stopping stations.
    • Automatic signalling may not be required for this level of traffic but can be considered at the first stage itself to create enough capacity.
    • Based on the costing trend prevailing over Indian Railways, a double line network with electrification and signalling system will cost Rs. 10 Crs/Km. thus an expenditure of Rs. 700 Crs for the network.
  • The maximum permissible speed of 160 Kmph and an average speed of 90 Kmph has been worked out by NCRTC. It is necessary to have all coaches air conditioned. The cost of air-conditioning will certainly be recovered from the passenger even though he is willing to travel in a non-airconditioned coach. He is not having an option. ICF manufactured rake is fit to work at a maximum speed of 110 Kmph and can deliver an average speed of 50 Kmph. Air conditioning is not a technical need for 110 Kmph and a mix of both (Second Class and Air conditioned)  can be provided as per demand and paying capacity.
  • Average speed of 90 Kmph may offer an attractive proposition but there is a provision in the alternative scheme to run galloping train with few or without any stop depending upon the traffic demand. The galloping train to work on  the middle lines without affecting slow commuter traffic on other lines.
  •  Mumbai sub-urban network suffers from a high rate of causality due to run over, therefore, the entire network has to be fenced, conversion of unmanned level crossing into the subway, manned level crossing into the subway or ROB, additional FOB/subway to cater for farming community to cross the track. Exact expenditure can only be worked on detailing the work, However, it may not need more than 600 Crs.
  • There is a need for proper connectivity of the DMRC network with Railway network. This has already been done at most of the places and may need some inputs in the form of the escalator / travelator for quick dispersal etc. This may involved an expenditure of Rs. 50 Crs.
  • For handling such a large traffic, there will be a requirement for development of the circulating area at all stations with adequate parking facility, extension of platform etc. This may involve an expenditure of Rs. 100 Crs. for nearly 10 stations.

The total estimated cost will work out to be  around 2200 Crs. i.e. 31.4 Crs./Km. It is a rough estimation but final figure may be around this only. This is a proposal which is financially and technically viable. It will increase the carrying capacity of Indian Railways on this network by more than double boosting long distance/freight traffic as well.


Funding at the rate of Rs. 33 Crs/Km shall not be a major hurdle when the corporation had in his mind to explore funding pattern for Rs. 188 Crs./Km.

The funding pattern of MRVC is through loan from the World Bank and a surcharge on passenger fares. The same can be done for NCR and no one will object when looking for a brighter and comfortable  future.

 More Reading

Mass Rapid Transit System –Suburban

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