Exclusive Interview with Mr. U.J.M. Rao, MD, Andhra Pradesh Metro

In Tier-2 cities the Light Metro System is the most appropriate system for the next 40-45 years considering the population growth and other factors in the city development: Mr. U.J.M. Rao, MD, AP Metro

Mr. U.J.M. Rao, MD, AP Metro
Mr. U.J.M. Rao, MD, AP Metro

Metro Rail News recently had a virtual interaction with U.J.M. Rao, IRAS, Managing Director Andhra Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. In the interview Mr. Rao talked about the metro projects that are being carried out in Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada as well as talked about the importance of the Light Metro System.

UJM Rao is presently working as the Managing Director of Andhra Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation Limited (APMRC) a State-owned SPV of – Andhra Pradesh since January 2016, almost since its inception of the Corporation. Initially, he joined APMRC as the General Manager (Coordination & Finance) and got elevated to the position of Managing Director. Rao is a 1988 batch IRAS Officer belonging to Indian Railways and prior to his current assignment, he worked in various higher managerial positions in the Railways. His long and rich experience in Railways in various streams like Logistics, Railway Operations, Major Construction Projects including Railway Electrification etc. at decision-making levels has given him enough confidence in handling the Metro Rail Projects under implementation by APMRC. 

Here are the edited excerpts: –

In what ways the Light Metro project for Visakhapatnam would be different from other Metro projects of the country?

In Visakhapatnam, being a tier-2 City with moderate ridership, we considered that a cost saving Light Metro Rail System would be sufficient to meet the traffic needs in the next 40-50 years. With the smaller and smarter version of Metro Rail System which can meet up to 25000 PHPDT and carry 14 lakh people daily with increase in the number of metro cars from 2,3,4,5 and so on. The cost of construction is presently assessed to be INR 185 Cr/Km while other Metro Systems in India costs INR 250 Cr/Km for the elevated system. The Light Metro System would save sizable O&M expenses too.

In fact, this system is not new to the World. The At-Grade LRT in Europe and other Countries has been by and large adopted with the latest technology here in Visakhapatnam on an Elevated track. In my opinion, all the tier -2 Cities in India can adopt this Light Metro System, which provides the same facilities and comforts for the people that are available on Medium Metro System at a reduced Capex and Opex.     

As per new DPR what is the present status of the Vizag Metro Project?

The new DPR for 76.90 km with an estimated project completion cost of Rs.14,309 Cr has been submitted by the Consultants and is in the process of Government approvals. The financial model for implementation of this project is on VGF-PPP Model.

What new modifications and feasibility improvements have been quoted by Urban Mass Transit Company Limited (UMTC) in the new/revised DPR prepared for Vizag metro which earlier was prepared by DMRC 5-6 years back?

In 2015, DMRC prepared a DPR for 42.55 Km length of Metro Rail Alignment for Visakhapatnam covering the crowded parts of the core city only. Later, it was decided to expand the Metro Rail System upto the new International Airport at Bhogapuram and thus the total length became 76.90 km for which the UMTC Consultants have prepared the new DPR in 2021 considering the cost escalation in the last 6 years, changed financial model and improved designs specifications and the drawings suitable to Light Metro Rail System.

The previous DPR was the Metro Rail System similar to that established in Delhi and other places whereas the new DPR now prepared for Visakhapatnam is for the Light Metro System.

The Visakhapatnam Metro after completion is expected to become the world’s largest metro system developed on a PPP model which will have a combination of both Metro and Tram. What is the official statement of APMRC in this regard? Is the government ready to achieve the milestone?

As you said the 76.90 km Light Metro Rail Project will perhaps be the largest Metro Rail System in the World on PPP Model. The Visakhapatnam Light Metro Rail System is the first of its kind in the Country.

The said Light Metro Rail System in the main steam and the 61.10 km Catenary Free Modern Tram System are entirely two different MRTS Systems.

Visakhapatnam City is gifted with a 42 km long sea coast. Leaving 10 km towards the Southern side of the City where the two major sea ports viz. Visakhapatnam Port and Gangavaram Port and other Industrial belt are situated, in the remaining 32 km from Old Post Office to Bheemili beach, the Modern Tram System has been proposed on the beach front as a tourist attraction and also providing transportation to the colonies en-route. Two more Corridors in the busy city outskirts of a length of 18.10 and 11 km respectively have also been planned. The entire tram system is At-Grade with segregated ROW. This project is at DPR stage.

What is the status of the Vijayawada Light Metro Project? Is there any development for the project after DMRC cancelled the procurement in the first phase?

Similar to the Visakhapatnam Project, for Vijayawada also a revised DPR for 38KM length of Light Metro Rail System, in place of 26 KM earlier recommended by DMRC, has been prepared by M/S SYSTRA Consortium. The project will be taken up soon after implementation of the priority Visakhapatnam Metro Rail Project.

Is Light Rapid Transit / Light Metro or a Medium Capacity System (MCS) the future of a modern urban transport system to be developed in the country?

The unique advantage of the Light Metro System is that it can be upgraded to a higher version metro if there is a demand and need for such a big system.

Except in the Metropolitan and Tier-1 cities, the PHPDT would not be more than 25,000 per hour in Tier-2 cities for about 40-45 years, the cost saving Light Metro Rail System is the most suitable one because the system gives the same comforts to the public while the CAPEX and OPEX lesser by more than 20%.

When a City like Visakhapatnam with 41 lakhs of Population together with the Urban agglomeration can be managed with the Light Metro System for the next 40-45 years similar cities which will have the same traffic pattern can also adopt this system. As the Civil Infrastructure, p way and the 3rd Rail technology established is suitable to the conventional higher version of Metro’s, the up-gradation can take place after 35 years, if the traffic demands because the fleet of Light Metro have to be changed after a period of 35 years.       

Depending on the vast diversities and specificity this country possesses for each region, do you advocate a replacement of the traditional MRTS based transport system with a Light Metro, Metrolite or Metro Neo transport system across all future metro projects in the country?

The popular MRTS systems in public transport are the Conventional Metro, Light Metro (LRT on elevated/UG/At-grade), MetroLite and Metro Neo.  Each system has its own advantages and hence the cities are adopting them as suitable to their future needs. 

However, it is my strong opinion that in Tier-2 cities the Light Metro System is the most appropriate system for the next 40-45 years considering the population growth and other factors in the city development and is upgradable to a higher Metro System to run beyond that period. Up-gradation is possible even after 35 years.  The MetroLite and Metro Neo are no doubt are cheaper in comparison to other two systems but they have certain limitations like passenger carrying capacity (PHPDT), Speed, comforts, etc.,  

Kindly share your views about Metro Rail News. Is there any message you would like to give to our readers?

Frankly speaking, I came to know more about Metro Rail News magazine and the activities of SYMBROJ media a couple of months back, even though the media is in existence for the last 6 years.  When I have gone through the latest issues of the Metro Rail News, I find they have covered in the monthly, the latest activities & progress of all Metros in the Country and also it contains valuable information about RRTS and India Railways. Besides it has a strong editorial advisory board composed of veterans in the fields of Railways, Metro Railways, Urban Transportation and the Industry. Really this is a treasure for the magazine to receive highly technical developments happening around the world.

Mr. Narendra Shah, Managing Director and his editorial team are doing an excellent job in bringing out the Monthly Journal with varied subjects that are useful for the Management, Industries and Executing Agencies.

I Sincerely wish them all the best.    


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