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Mass Rapid Transit System-Urban

By on September 21, 2013

Ministry of Urban Development, Govt. of India predicts an average city very low-speed of around 6 to 8 kmph by 2030, which is the speed of a morning walker. The question is simple, is it acceptable to us. It was during 1850’s that over 750000 commuters entered and left London daily, either by mainline railways or by Road. The streets of London were literally blocked for miles by the great variety of iron-tired vehicles of the day, all taking their toll on the frayed nerves and tempers of the frustrated London commuter. The London press of the day featured front page articles telling of the “scandalous state of London’s transportation facilities”. It was learnt during 1950’s itself that mass transportation and personal transportation cannot mix together. The same situation is prevailing on most of the roads all over Indian cities and many a time people get down from their car and prefer to walk, a better speed than crawling.  Mass transportation is the responsibility of State Government and MRTS is a better option as compared to any other mode. The other modes like bus, auto-rikshaw, share taxi to assist  as a feeder service to MRTS and has equal importance to improve the catchment area.

The Mass Rapid Transit System is popularly called MRTS and is  highly in demand for development of Metropolitan cities all over the world. MRTS on date is a  network of 10641 Km, 9349 stations and 573 lines covering 184 cities worldwide.  What does MRTS means; Mass is defined as a  large amount or number, such as a great body of the people and Rapid means quick transport  from one place to another. MRTS, therefore,  transports  large number of human beings from one place to another as quickly as possible stopping at almost every 2-3 minutes. The journey time is to be made small even when the transport system stops frequently. The characteristics of MRTS are

  • Meant for transport of large number of passengers at quick intervals.
  • High carrying capacity of the transport system. Capacity is  measured in terms of PHPDT i.e. Peak Hour Per Direction Traffic.
  • Quick acceleration and maximum speed attained  for rapid transport
  • Higher standing capacity as compared to sitting capacity. The average standing time during the  journey is less than 20 minutes
  • Comfortable environment either by natural or forced ventilation, control of CO2  along with  air conditioning
  • Frequent service or less waiting time at Railway Station

There are two different features of MRTS namely Urban and Suburban. The difference is basically in journey time, acceleration level,  distance between adjacent stations etc. Urban MRTS is underground, elevated or surface whereas suburban is surface only.

Feature  Parameter Urban Parameter suburban
Distance between adjacent Stations 0.5-2 Km 2-10 Km
Total Journey Time 30 – 60 minutes 60 – 180 minutes
Total Distance 10-30 Km 30 – 120 Km
Acceleration Level 0.7 – 1.2 m/sec2 or 2.5 km/hr/sec-4.2 Km/hr/sec 0.5 – 0.8 m/sec2 or 1.8 – 2.8 Km/hr/sec
Maximum Speed 65-85 Kmph 85-110 Kmph
Profile of the Section At Grade, Under Ground and Elevated Mostly at grade

Both the transport system is having importance in urban development. Suburban network eases the pressure on urban settlement.  MRTS-Sub-urban started in India by Indian Railways in Mumbai and Kolkata, the most populous cities and met the public demand and very soon became the lifeline of the city. Suburban network, limited to the existing rail network under the charge of Indian Railways, is not enough to meet the growing public demand of these two cities as well as other growing metropolitan cities.


Main Line Electrical Multiple Unit

Crowd for Mumbai Sub-urban train


Kolkata Metro Rail

MRTS-Urban was introduced for the first time in Kolkata, with  highest priority  given to the busy north-south axis between Dum Dum and Tollygunze over a length of 16.45 km, and the work on this project was sanctioned on 1 June 1972. The construction work started in 1973-74. Since the commencement of construction, the project has had to contend with several problems such as non-availability of sufficient funds till 1977-78, shifting of underground utilities, court injunctions, irregular supply of vital materials, political instability and others. But overcoming innumerable hurdles and crossing all barriers of disbelief, Calcutta Metro, India’s first and Asia’s fifth, became a reality on Oct 24, 1984 with the commissioning of partial commercial service covering a distance of 3.40 km with five stations between Esplanade and Bhowanipur, a joy ride for Kolkatians and tourist place for anyone visiting Kolkata. Finally the section of 15.74 Km totally underground network of 750 V DC third rail was commissioned on  Sep 27, 1995.

Driving Console – Kolkata Metro Rail

Kolkata Metro Train

A test of patience, learning, budget bursting many times, lack of support from the State Govt. and  IR   finally  deciding not to venture in MRTS – Urban projects any more. Presently, IR continue to  operates and maintain Kolkata Metro Rail created by it with huge operating losses. Reason for the losses is simple, the tariff is governed by IR tariff structure with no separate tariff mechanics similar to newly coming up Metro Rails.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation

MRTS study projects for Delhi started in 1969-70 and continued by different agencies up to the year 1990. With IR not taking any lead for MRTS  projects, a decision was taken to make it a State subject with support from Central Govt. The first right  step in this direction was the creation of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation registered on May 3, 1995 and work started on Oct. 1 1998; and  just within 4 years, the first section between Shahadara – Tis Hazari opens to the public on Dec. 25, 2002. Phase I (65 Km) and II (126 Km) of Delhi Metro completed in record time and opened to the public on 31 March 2005 and 10 March 2008 respectively. It is this success story which generated confidence. And now Phase III (112 Km) and Phase IV (108 Km) are also sanctioned.

 The success of this project with hassle free and before time completion opened immense possibility for Metro planner.

At present, there are  twenty Metro cities either decided or serious to bring in  MRTS in their cities. Delhi Metro is also very much in demand to give consultancy to new Metros.  The funding agencies like JICA ( Japan International Cooperation Agency) is having full confidence of proper usage of funds and prompt execution of Metro Projects, if monitored by DMRC.

Crowd to board Delhi Metro Train

Passenger waiting in a queue to board Delhi Metro Train – very rare to see in India

Status of MRTS project spread over Indian Cities

 MRTS project in following cities is in progress

City Name of organization Kilometer(UG+RC) No. of Stations Project Cost
Delhi Phase III Delhi Metro Rail Corporation 47.5+91.85=139.35 33UG+58Elevated  35242 Crs
Kolkata Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation 8.0+5.7=13.7 6UG+6 Elevated  4875 Crs
Mumbai Mumbai Metro One 32.5+114=146.5  36000 Crs
Jaipur Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation 2.8+9.3 = 12.1 3UG+8 Elevated  3151 Crs
Ahemdabad MEGA* Company Ltd 19+64=83 53 Elevated  19000 Crs
Hyderabad Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited 0+ 72 km 66 Elevated  16375 Crs
Chennai Chennai Metro Rail Limited 24+21=45 Km 19UG+14Elevated  14685 Crs.
Banglore Banglaru Metro Rail Corporation 8.82+33.48=42.3 7UG+33 Elevated  11609 Crs
Kochi Cochin Metro Rail Limited 25 Km 23 Elevated  5181 Crs

MEGA*  Metro-Link Express between Gandhidham and Ahemdabad

The following cities qualifies for metro project

Lucknow, Kanpur, Patna, Jaipur, Pune, Surat, Indore, Nagpur, Coimbatore, Kozhikode, Chandigarh, Ludhiana

Technical Issues with MRTS

  1. MRTS is for sustainable development with very very long life span for all eternity. One should look into the longevity of material, technology and scope in the design for up-gradation while selecting its usage in MRTS.
  2. The concept, design, choice, selection etc. plays vital role in deciding project cost, operating cost, time of completion and financial feasibility of the project. These issues shall be considered beforehand.
    1. The alignment or routing and location of stations are determined by transportation planners as a function of the anticipated passenger traffic densities in the various transportation corridors. The basic principle is to connect business and commercial urban center with a residential area.
    2. Track profile is the important part of any MRTS project as it decides the project cost. Track profile is a combination of at grade,  underground or elevated rail corridor. Underground network cost is the largest for not only the project but for maintenance and operation as well. Elevated building, inadequate road width, historical monuments, aesthetic value of the location etc. results in underground track profile. Sometimes the reason for adopting underground track profile are genuine but there are occasions when it can be avoided by objective study. Cost of construction of track profile taking about one station every Km for underground is 350 Crs/Km, elevated corridor 150 Crs./Km and at grade about 5 Crs./Km.
    3. It is desirable for trains to travel down grade while leaving the station and up gradient when approaching the station for natural assistance in acceleration and de-acceleration. This helps in saving energy during acceleration and brake shoes during de-acceleration. Now with regenerative braking a common feature this is no more an essential technical need. It is also assessed that 4MC+2TC combination may help in achieving  an acceleration of 1 m/s/s and  57% regeneration.
  3. The acceleration level plays a vital role deciding the running time. Running time has a direct link to the number of rakes and thus the cost. The acceleration level ranges from 0.25-1.2 m/secor 0.90 – 4.2Km/h/sec. Higher Acceleration levels are attained by providing higher rated motor or more number of motor coaches. Delhi Metro runs with a combination of 1MC+1TC and being upgraded to 3MC+1TC in new lines. Indian Railways run with 1MC+2TC in super dense crushed loaded system of Mumbai and Kolkata. As regards MEMU services, the combination is 1MC+3TC.
  4. Train composition i.e. Number of coaches are decided based on the rate at which passengers are generated on the route and its evacuation to avoid accumulation. Delhi Metro started with a 6 coach formation and has to upgrade to 8 coach within 5 years of operation. The infrastructure once constructed cannot be modified to suit additional coaches in train formation and therefore becomes the limiting factor. Handling capacity can only be increased by reducing the head way between two trains which is limited to 90 minutes. Mumbai suburban system which run totally at grade, has been  modified conveniently at stages from 8 to now 15 coaches.
  5. Reliability and punctuality plays a significant role in  urban transport. MRTS has inbuilt features to make sure this.  With 3 to 4 MC in the formation, traction reliability is automatically built in. Punctual running of MRTS network  is so much in demand that over Indian Railways main line network, long distance trains are detained to give precedance to sub-urban trains.
  6. Clearance between the tunnel or a parapet wall of elevated section and coach body is small requiring closure of doors before the train to run. With trains loaded to dense crushed standards, it becomes necessary to provide additional ventilation and cooling. MRTS urban is invariably provided with air conditioning. Air conditioning load is significant about 50 kW/coach  and is in comparison with the traction load. As regards MRTS-Suburban, it should depend on passenger loading pattern. Indian Railways have not yet introduced any air conditioning system on the suburban network as almost super dense crush loading prevailing in most of the network. Air conditioning in IR managed MRTS-Suburban network  can only be introduced by
    • introduction of additional trains to reduce loading from super dense crush loading (16 passengers/m2 ) to atleast dense crush loading (16 passengers/m2) if not better
    • To change the tariff structure near to that prevailing on  MRTS urban network
  1. MRTS urban is always associated with curves and therefore, flange lubrication is an essential requirement to save on energy,  wear of wheel and rail and reducing screeching sound.
  2. MRTS urban normally works in a protected environment with no possible entry of an unauthorized person into the network. Eatable are also not allowed thus helping in maintaining a clean environment. However, suicidal attempts sometime lead to delay. MRTS-Sub-urban works on level and thus affected by trespassing, tampering with the system etc.
  3. It is possible to run MRTS-urban network with driver-less train. This is not possible in suburban network due to trespassing, very common in India. In fact, the rolling stock planned for Phase III and IV is driver less, however an attendant will be deployed for any emergency.
  4. MRTS urban is a mostly vestibule end to end, thus helps in even distribution of loading. This is also essential for emergency evacuation through end doors. There is only one class in MRTS-urban . It is not so with MRTS Suburban where there are two classes, women, vendor and physically challenged, thus passenger is confined to the coach he has boarded. This requires marking at the platform about the exact location of different class of coach.
  5. MRTS  as well as suburban coach shall be designed with  least possible tare weight as it handles dense crush loading i.e. 8 passenger/m2. It is stated that Mumbai suburban loading goes to the level of super dense crush loading i.e. 16 passenger/m2. Aluminum body cars are regarded as light weight as compared to stainless steel coach. So far, aluminum body coach has not been used in India.
  6. The width of the Metro coach varies from 2.88 to 3.2 meters. Metro coach has to work through a tunnel of diameter of 5.2 to 5.8 meters. It has been observed that the machinery and plant along with jigs and fixture are same for the range of 5.2 to 5.8 meters. Higher diameter may help in adopting higher width coach.  Indian Railway is using 3.65 m (12 feet) coach for sub-urban network.

Cost of MRTS Urban Project

The MRTS Urban project certainly costs money but has proven advantage of sustainability, energy efficiency, handling large volume of passenger traffic, safety and reliability have invited the attention of city planners. Project cost of Delhi Metro of different phases is as follows:

Phase Project Cost Underground Km Elevated Km At Grade Km Total Average/Km %UG of Total Network
Phase I 10571 Crs. 13.17 47.43 4.5 65.10 162.38 21.4
Phase II 18783 Crs. 31.18 94.87 2 128.60 146.00 24.2
Phase III 35242 Crs. 47.50 91.85 139.35 252.90 34.0

The cost involves all cost including cost of the rake, maintenance infrastructure etc. Average Cost of one coach is around Rs. 10 Crs. based on the different  contracts and is included above.

 Cost of Energy in MRTS Urban Project

Energy cost is much high of the order of 30% of the total operating expenditure in any MRTS-urban project due to frequent acceleration due to frequent stoppages almost every kilometer. This is added with air conditioning cost of the coach as well as that for environmental control at underground stations which is almost 30% in numbers of the total in the network. With the introduction of regenerative braking, it could be possible to retrieve about 30% of the energy which otherwise wasted as heart energy. This heat energy was also adding to the heat load of the tunnel and underground station and has given good relief. The existing Kolkata metro coaches are with dynamic and rehostatic braking system based on the technology prevailing during 1980’s but are now with replacement due, are being chanced with regenerative braking features. A good relief to operating cost.

Energy consumption measured in terms of Specific energy consumption i.e. units/1000GTKM is around 50 of which 20 is for air conditioning load of the coach.

Why there is no stopping now for MRTS in India?

There is no stopping now for progress of MRTS in India. What are the factors that encourages city planners for MRTS?

  • Project can be completed within stipulated time frame without causing inconvenience to locals during construction phase.
  • Different financial models has been worked out and all giving encouraging results. However it has to be State/Central Govt. sponsored.
  • It has the magnetic of vote catching. Assembly of huge crowd at the time of  trial run ingratiation of Jaipur Metro Railway proves this.
  • The project can be completed within five years period of any elected Government. This provides an enviable  opportunity for foundation laying and inauguration by the same Govt.
  • MRTS projects stamps the Govt.- in-power for its pro-development image

What should be done to transfer load from road to MRTS – Urban

A developed MRTS is one where car owners prefer to travel by public transport. If he does not commute by public transport or MRTS, it is his fault or MRTS is not coming upto the expectations. To my opinion it is the design of MRTS system to transfer load from road to rail, a win win situation for both. It is only for one reason, that effective feeder system is not developed. Feeder system is the grouping of local transport system like bus, shared taxi, auto rickshaw, efficient parking system etc. Beside this connectivity of MRTS with Railways, State Roadways Bus Depot, Airport etc. is the most essential design aspect. It has been given to understand that Chennai Metro meets all these expectation and will be able to  transfer load from road to rail. Why there is no check list to incorporate these features.

Design of MRTS will be successful when it also transfer car user to MRTS network willingly.

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There Are 9 Comments

  1. rishiraj says:

    I injured my leg was operated on but I have never been to the matterSo it will have any effect on the time of medical? I want become a loco pilot

  2. Amal says:

    Sir, I’ve completed my 10 and I’m in +1 right now in technical school…
    As we are having Electronic standard technology as the part of syllabus can I apply for the post of an ALP after completing my +2

  3. Amal says:

    Sir,if I take diploma in mechanical stream. Is it possible to work on Electric locomotives ..?