A transport system to support seamless transfer between travel modes

Indian cities have various types of urban transit systems operational, under construction and planned

mumbai local railway
mumbai local railway
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Urban rail transit in India plays an important role in intracity transportation in the major cities which are highly populated. It consists of rapid transit, suburban rail, monorail and tram systems. According to a report published in 2021, a total of 2.63 billion people traveled annually in metro systems across India’s fifteen major cities, placing the country as one of the busiest urban rapid transit hubs in the world in terms of ridership. The combined length of 810 kilometers of metro systems in India makes it the fourth longest in the world within an operation. Since 2014, a total of about 548 km of the metro rail network has been built/operationalized in India.

The Ministry of Urban Development‘s Urban Transport wing is the nodal division for coordination, appraisal and approval of Urban Transport matters including Metro Rail Projects at the central level. All the interventions in urban transport by the Ministry of Urban Development are carried out as per the provisions of the National Urban Transport Policy, 2006.


Indian cities have various types of urban transit systems operational, under construction and planned. These systems are being implemented based on the population of a city, financial feasibility and demand.


Urban transit type Capacity Speed Frequency of stations/stops Right of way Rail based Cost to build and operate
Metro High Medium High Yes Yes High
Suburban Railway Very High Medium Medium Yes Yes Medium
Medium-capacity rail Medium Medium High Yes Yes High
Metro Lite Medium Medium High Partial Yes Medium
Monorail Medium Medium High Yes Yes High
Regional transit system High High Low Yes Yes High
Tram Low Slow High No Yes Low
Bus Rapid Transit Low Medium High Yes No Low
Metro Neo Low Medium High Yes No Medium
Water Metro Low Slow Medium Yes No Low



  • Rapid Transit: Rapid transit or popularly known as metro in India, is an urban high-capacity rail system, commonly operated in metropolitan cities. These systems are segregated from Indian Railways and have their right-of-way. Example: Delhi Metro, Chennai MRTS
  • Suburban Railway: Suburban rail or popularly known as the local train system in India, is an urban rail transit system where the suburbs are connected to the city’s center. These systems are linked to and operated by Indian Railways. Example: Mumbai Suburban Railway
  • Medium-Capacity Rail: It is a rapid transit (metro) system that has a capacity higher than light rail but lower than rapid transit system to serve a medium demand. It is built considering the future rise in demand so that it can be converted into a regular metro. Example: Rapid Metro Gurgaon
  • Light Rail: Light rail is used in cities that have low demand. It is a combination of rapid transit and tram systems. It has a higher capacity and speed compared to tram services and has dedicated tracks that are mostly fenced. Example: Srinagar Metro
  • Monorail: This system has trains running on a single rail/beam. It has found its application in medium-capacity transport, but due to low efficiency and high costs, it has been sidelined in India. Example: Mumbai Monorail
  • Regional Transit System: This system is operated either between two similarly-sized cities, which are close to each other, or between an urban city and smaller cities lying nearby. Example: Delhi–Meerut RRTS
  • Tram: These systems are one of the oldest modes of urban transport in India. They are low-capacity, slow-moving trains which run on tracks that are embedded in the urban streets. Example: Kolkata Tram.


Non-rail-based Urban Transit

  • Bus Rapid Transit: The Bus Rapid Transit systems in India use conventional buses or high-capacity buses and have their own right-of-way, separated from the rest of the traffic. Example: Bhopal Bus Rapid Transit System
  • Metro Neo: These are the Bus Rapid Transit systems that use overhead wires with a power supply similar to a trolleybus but with a higher capacity and which have their right-of-way. Example: Greater Nashik Metro
  • Water Metro: A water-based urban transit system usually implemented in cities that are situated on rivers. These systems are basically integrated ferry systems. Example: Kochi Water Metro


Rapid Transit

There is currently 15 operational rapid transit (popularly known as ‘metro’) systems in fifteen cities across India. Delhi Metro is the largest metro system that connects to a few other nearby cities in the National Capital Region. As of October 2022, India has 792.27 kilometers of operational metro lines and 631 stations across 15 systems. A further 568.15 km of lines are under construction.

Apart from the Kolkata metro (which has its own zone under Indian Railways), these rapid transit metro lines are not operated by Indian Railways, but by a separate set of local authorities. In addition to their metro systems, the cities of Chennai and Hyderabad have mass transit systems operated by the Indian Railways, known as the Chennai MRTS and the Hyderabad MMTS, respectively. The first rapid transit system in India is the Kolkata Metro, which started operations in 1984. The Delhi Metro has the largest network in the entire country.



In 2006, the National Urban Transport Policy proposed the construction of a metro rail system in every city with a population of at least 20 lakh (2 million) people. Later on 11 August 2014, Union Government announced that it would provide financial assistance for the implementation of a metro rail system to all Indian cities having a population of more than 1 million. In May 2015, the Union Government approved the Union Urban Development Ministry’s proposal to implement metro rail systems in 50 cities, with the majority of the planned projects to be implemented through special purpose vehicles, which will be established as 50:50 joint ventures between the Union and respective State Government. The Union Government would invest an estimated Rs. 5 lakh crore.

In a new draft policy unveiled in March 2017, the Central Government stated that it wanted state governments to consider metro rail as the ‘last option and implement it only after considering all other possible mass rapid transit systems. The decision was taken due to the high cost of constructing metro rail systems. In August 2017, the Union Government announced that it would not provide financial assistance to the new metro rail project unless some sort of private partnership is involved.


Track gauge

Unlike Broad gauge which forms a majority of the railway tracks in the sub-continent, metro rail lines in India are composed of mainly standard gauge. Projects like the Kolkata Metro and Delhi Metro used broad gauge for their earliest lines, but to procure modern foreign rakes and to adopt international standards, India went ahead with standard gauge for all the following lines.


Suburban Rail


Suburban rail plays a major role in the public transport system of many major Indian cities. These services are operated by Indian Railways. Suburban rail is a rail service between a central business district and the suburbs, a conurbation, or other locations that draw large numbers of people daily. The trains are called suburban trains. These trains are also referred to as ‘local trains’ or ‘locals’. The suburban rail systems in Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow–Kanpur, and Bengaluru do not have dedicated suburban tracks but share tracks with long-distance trains. The suburban rail system of Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai have both dedicated tracks and tracks shared with long-distance trains.

The first suburban rail system in India is Mumbai Suburban Railway which started operations in 1853. The Kolkata Suburban Railway has the largest network in the entire country. The Chennai Suburban Railway started its operations in 1931.

Suburban trains that handle commuter traffic are all electric multiple units (EMUs). They usually have nine or twelve coaches, sometimes even fifteen to handle rush hour traffic. One unit of an EMU train consists of one power car and two general coaches. Thus a nine-coach EMU is made up of three units having one power car at each end and one at the middle. The rakes in the suburban rails run on 25 kV AC. Ridership on India’s suburban railways has risen from 1.2 million in 1970–71 to 4.4 million in 2012–13. The suburban railways of Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai occupy no more than 7.1% of the Indian Railways 20819.3-km network but account for 53.2% of all railway passengers. In some cities in India, the opening of rapid transit systems has led to a decline in the use of the suburban rail system.


System State / Union Territory Lines Stations Opened
Chennai Mass Rapid Transit System Tamil Nadu 02 18 01 Nov 1995
Chennai Suburban Railway Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh 08 300+ 1931
Delhi Suburban Railway Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana 01 46 01 Oct 1975
Hyderabad Multi-Modal Transport System Telangana 03 28 09 Aug 2003
Kolkata Suburban Railway West Bengal 24 458 15 Aug 1854
Mumbai Suburban Railway Maharashtra 07 150 16 Apr 1853
Pune Suburban Railway Maharashtra 02 17 11 Mar 1978
Bengaluru Commuter Rail Karnataka 04 TBD Under Construction
Ahmedabad Suburban Railway Gujarat 02 41 Proposed
Nagpur broad-gauge Metro Maharashtra 04 TBD Proposed
Coimbatore Suburban Railway Tamil Nadu 05 TBD Proposed
Total 8 47 1017 3,319.84 km


(Figures Till Sep 2021)


Bengaluru Commuter Rail

A Commuter rail service existed in Bengaluru as early as 1963 for HAL employees to commute from KSR Bengaluru to Vimanapura Railway station. In 1983 a formal Commuter Rail system for Bangalore had first been proposed by a team from Southern Railway under then Railway Minister C. K. Jaffer Sharief and a Member of Parliament representing Bangalore. Their recommendation had been to invest in 3 commuter rail lines and a 58-km ring railway. The package was estimated to cost Rs. 6,500 million in 1983 terms (US$628.6 million) spread over a 25-year period.

Again in 1993 C. K. Jaffer Sharief Minister of Railways, India. Influenced the State of Karnataka to establish another committee looking into mass rapid transit. This committee recommended essentially the same put forward by Southern Railway in 1983 and the same circular railway. Both in 1983 and 1993 the proposal was rejected by the then Prime Minister of India.

In 2007, RITES (Rail Indian Technical and Economic Services) was commissioned by the Government of Karnataka to conduct a CTTP (Comprehensive Traffic & Transportation Plan) for the city of Bengaluru. Their report called for 10 Commuter Rail routes totaling 204.0 km. As per the report, Commuter Rail (along existing rail routes) would cost much lesser than mass rapid transit systems.

In July 2010, a proposal was made by Praja Bangalore in a ‘Call To Action report. This plan was supported & presented at the center for infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning (CisTup), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. The proposal had suggested a 376 km network around three hubs (Yesvantpur Junction, Benniganahalli & Yelahanka Junction) with 42 new stations. A key recommendation was to use the congested KSR Bengaluru only as a pass-through station.

In November 2011, RITES conducted a feasibility study exclusively for commuter rail services in Bengaluru and submitted its final report to the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) in November 2012. The 179-page report studied all existing routes totaling 440.8 km of the rail network in & around the city & development of Commuter Rail services over three phases. The state government approved the commuter rail system on 5 July 2013. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah approved the system in the 2013-14 state budget that he presented on 9 July 2013. The budget proposed the setting up of the Bengaluru Suburban Rail Corporation Limited, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to implement the project estimated to cost Rs. 87.59 billion.

In the 2016-17 Railway budget, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announced a partnership with the Karnataka government for an Rs. 9000-crore Commuter Rail network for Bengaluru but did not allocate any funds. On 3 February 2016, the state government proposed a modified version of the original RITES plan. This looked to kick-start the project with an Rs. 1,000-crore investment to connect Mandya with Kengeri, Whitefield with Baiyappanahalli, and Tumakuru with Yeshwanthpura Junction. The state government released 100 crores towards this. The state-appointed RITES again to study the feasibility of the project, and the latter’s survey deemed the project as feasible. However, Railways stated that the proposed Phase Two of the project (linking Tumakuru and Yeshwanthpura Junction) was not feasible.

In November 2018, RITES prepared a revised plan for a 161 km network that was again amended in August 2019 to reduce costs. Out of 82 stations, 29 stations were deleted, the route length was reduced to 148 km & costs were lowered to Rs. 16,000 crores. This was finally accepted by the Government of India.




Bengaluru Commuter Rail is an under-construction suburban rail network for the city of Bangalore. A Commuter Rail system for the city was first proposed in 1983. Since then, several different route proposals were made but no Commuter Rail project took shape. It was finally approved in the 2019 Railway Budget. On 1 February 2020, finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman mentioned in her budget that the project would be implemented at a cost of Rs 18,600 crores. The central government would provide 20% of the equity and facilitate external assistance up to 60 percent of the project cost. It will be the first of its kind and unique in India as it will have metro-like facilities and rolling stock. It has the slowest design speed among all the new commuter rail projects currently being implemented in India as Nagpur broad-gauge Metro and National Capital Region Transport Corporation are building rail tracks for a design speed of 200 km/h with an operating speed of 160 km/h.

The commuter rail along with Hyperloop, High-speed Airport trains, Intercity trains, Metro rail, Metro Neo, and Metrolite will provide rail-based public transport to Bengaluru’s s general public.


Route Proposals


The route proposed by RITES & approved


Route Distance Length (km) No. of Stations
Elevated Surface Elevated Surface
KSR Bengaluru – Yelahanka Junction – Devanahalli (Sampige Line) 41.40 18.98 22.42 08 07
Chikkabanavara Junction – Yeshwanthpura Junction – Benniganahalli (Mallige Line) 25.01 12.905 12.105 06 08
Kengeri – KSR Bengaluru – Bengaluru Cantonment – Whitefield. (Parijaata Line) 35.52 10.40 25.12 04 10
Heelalige – Yelahanka Junction – Rajanukunte (Kanaka Line) 46.24 13.29 32.95 04 15
Total 148.17 55.575 92.595 22 40*


*The total number of stations is 58 (figures under individual routes include interchange stations).


Current Status

Though approved in principle by the Government of India, budget allocations have been paltry over the last few years as only token amounts have been allocated. On 7 October 2020, the project was approved by Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (headed by the Prime Minister). The State Government commenced providing budgetary support for the Commuter Rail project & 500 crores were allocated in the 2020-21 budget. Meanwhile, K-RIDE has kick-started the Suburban project by calling tenders for Land Surveys, hiring staff, etc.

Two priority lines will be taken up first as per the Government of Karnataka’s advice. These are Mallige Line and Kanaka Line. The Commuter rail routes are named after local flowers. As of 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the start of construction of the project on 20th June this year.



Route-1: Sampige Line

Route-2: Mallige Line

Route-3: Parijaata Line

Route-4: Kanaka Line



Two depots have been planned. Jnanabharathi depot would be spread over 56.9 acres and Devanahalli depot would be on 61.2 acres. However, these are not on priority routes 2 and 4. Hence, the feasibility of a depot at Huskuru along the Kanaka Line is being explored besides other options.



DPR for the project has included many rare and unique features in System.

  • Many Stations will act as Integrated commercial hubs.
  • Many Stations will be built as Intermodal Integration hubs where people can switch easily with other modes of transport like the Metro.
  • Stations will have an Automated fare collection system and Platform screen doors.
  • DPR suggests that Metro Train sets (EMU) – RS 13 series, which is used in Delhi Metro and manufactured at M/s BEML, Bengaluru, is the most suitable for the Bengaluru Commuter Rail system.


Current MEMU and DEMU operation by Indian Railways

  1. Indian Railway’s South Western Railway zone operates several MEMU and DEMU train services from Bengaluru to Hosur, Dharmapuri, Jolarpettai, Tumakuru, Marikuppam near Kolar Gold Fields, Bangarapete, Hindupur, Mysuru, Kolar, Kuppam and Hassan.
  2. Hosur, Dharmapuri and Jolarpettai are across the state border in Tamil Nadu. Hindupur and Kuppam are across the state border in Andhra Pradesh, while Tumakuru, Bangarapete, Mysuru, Marikuppam, Kolar and Hassan are in Karnataka.
  3. Service to and from Hassan, Hindupur, Hosur, Dharmapuri and Tumakuru are operated from Yesvantpur Junction, while services to Mysuru, Kolar, Marikuppam, Kuppam, Bangarapete and Jolarpettai are from KSR Bengaluru and Bengaluru Cantonment.


Integrated intermodal and public transport experience with last-mile connectivity

Comprehensive Mobility Plan for Bengaluru provides a roadmap for an integrated public transport experience. Bengaluru Suburban Rail stations will be integrated with other modes of transport for seamless transfer between travel modes – as in European cities. Public Bus Service, Metro trains, Inter-city buses, Inter-city trains, Metrolite, Metro Neo, Hyperloop, BRTS, Peripheral Ring Road, Bus priority corridors, Airport metro, Airport Bus service, High-speed Airport Train, will be integrated with the Suburban train network.

Public Bicycle Sharing (PBS) and the Shared Micro-Mobility System initiatives have been launched to provide last-mile connectivity to suburban rail stations. K-RIDE plans to evolve all 57 stations into integrated commercial hubs (smart station hubs) where people can work, park, shop, eat, and trade. Approaches to suburban train stations will be provided from all directions. The suburban train station plan will not only focus on the development of the modern station itself, but also on traffic circulation and road improvement plan, easy switch to other public transport, widening of approach roads, and ramp-based multi-level access as in the New Delhi Railway station re-development model.


Ahmedabad Suburban Railway


The suburban railway was proposed to let people live in satellite towns and commute easily making less pressure on urban infrastructure. The project was conceptualized by the Delhi Metro Board around 2003. The Detailed Project Review was submitted to the Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board (GIDB) by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation in October 2005. GIDB sent it to RITES for verification. The project received approval in 2009 but was not implemented. During Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit 2015, MOU was signed with Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd for a suburban railway system in Ahmedabad. Later it was announced in the 2016 Union Rail Budget.


Project: Routes & Corridor


Ahmedabad Suburban Railway is a planned regional rail system in the city of Ahmedabad, Gujarat.



The project will use the existing Right of Way of Indian Railways, passing through Ahmedabad by upgrading and integrating existing facilities. Two corridors are planned for Ahmedabad Suburban Railway.


  • Corridor 1: Barejadi-Ahmedabad Junction-Kalol (43.49 km) with stops at Geratpur, Vatva, Maninagar, Sabarmati, Chandkheda, Khodiyar, and Saij Sertha Road
  • Corridor 2: Ahmedabad Junction-Naroda (9.47 km) with stops at Asarva, Ahmedabad Airport, Saijpur and Sardargram


Ahmedabad Suburban Railway
Native Name અમદાવાદ ઉપનગરીય રેલવે
Owner Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board Indian Railways
Locale Ahmedabad
Transit type Suburban rail
Number of lines 2 (planned)
Number of stations 41 (planned)
Daily ridership 4,55,000 (Estimated)
Headquarters Ahmedabad
Website www.gidb.org/rrs
Operator(s) Western Railway
Train Length 03 Coaches
Headway 10 minutes
System Length 52.96 Km
Track Gauge Broad Gauge




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