Exclusive Interview with Thiru M.A. Siddique, MD, CMRL

CMRL is developing and implementing a TOOL called PMIS (Project Monitoring Information System) for Project Monitoring. 

Thiru M.A. Siddique, MD, CMRL
Thiru M.A. Siddique, MD, CMRL

Metro Rail News conducted an email interview with Thiru M.A. Siddique, Managing Director, Chennai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (CMRL). In the interview, Mr. Siddique talked about the recent development of the Chennai Metro Phase 2 Project. 

Mr. Siddique is an IAS officer of Tamil Nadu Cadre belonging to the batch of 1995. He has served in various capacities in the Government of Tamil Nadu and the Government of India. He served as Sub-Collector, Sivakasi, Virudhunagar district from 1997-1998 and subsequently joined the Finance department as the Under Secretary to Government in 1998 and worked as Deputy Secretary in Finance Department from 1999 to 2002, acting as the Budget Officer of the State Government. He served as District Collector of Dharmapuri District between 2002 and 2004 and in Sivaganga District from 2006 to 2007. He held the post of Director of Museums for two years from 2004 and 2006 and that of Commissioner of Archives for three years between 2014 and 2017.

In the Government of India, Mr. Siddique worked as Director in the Department of Expenditure for a year in 2008-2009 and worked in two key ministries of Home and Finance for five years between 2009 and 2014. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Technology in Electronics and Communications Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. M.A. Siddique has been appointed as the Managing Director of Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) on 12 June 2022. He was the Commissioner of Revenue Administration until then.

Here are the edited excerpts: –

What are the outcomes of the access audit of two new stations of Chennai Metro which has been conducted recently?  How important are such audits for the metro systems and what should be the needed response mechanism?

Access Audit for all 32 Operating Metro Stations of Phase I and Phase I extension was conducted by an NGO and the reports are submitted to CMRL. The above report and checklist are prepared based on Harmonized Guidelines issued by MoHUA in the year 2016.   The Phase I and Phase I extension Metro Stations were constructed based on the earlier Guidelines issued by CPWD in the year 1998.  However, based on the Audit checklist, CMRL is in the process of implementing the missing amenities like Slope corrections, Dedicated parking, Handrail modifications, Corrections to Tactile floor layouts, Signages, Lowering of Ticket counters, Modifications in Physically Handicapped Toilets, etc. 

MD visited the progress of the above works at two stations (ST. Thomas Mount & Arumbakkam) and the works are progressing well. All Phase II stations are being designed based on the 2016 Guidelines. 

With long-gained expertise in public finance, policy-making, and public administration how are you taking the new responsibility as MD CMRL? What are your immediate priorities and plans?

Immediate priorities are:

  • Increasing the ridership to ensure a consistent operating profit
  • Take measures to provide intermodal and last mile connectivity both for seamless passenger experience and to increase ridership. 
  • Exploring non-fare box revenue, wherein CMRL has identified huge potential on this front. 
  • Above all, to ensure timely completion of Phase II, which is considered the largest metro project taken up at a time. Timely completion will reduce project costs and provide traffic solutions to Chennaities early.

What is the official statement regarding the development of infrastructure and systems at Chennai Metro? Is it in accordance with National Building Code 2005 for all sections?

Yes.  All Metro Systems in both Phase I and Phase II Extension have been designed based on NBC 2005 and NFPA130.  In Phase II, all systems are being designed based on NBC 2016 and NFPA130.  All Fire and Life Safety requirements and other standards are based on NBC 2016 / NFPA130.

What is the status of Phase II works?  How are you planning to achieve the deadline with works on multiple sections of the Phase?  What would be strategy towards common issues generally responsible for project delays and cost overruns?

There are 60 Contract Packages in Phase II. 19 are Civil contract Packages and 41 are Track & Systems.

Status of Award of Contract:

  • Civil Package: 12 Civil Packages are awarded and works are in progress. For 1 Civil Package, Bid opened and is yet to be awarded. Tender for balance 6 packages are under process. 
  • Track Package: 2 Track Packages are awarded and works are in progress. Tender for balance 3 Packages are under process.
  • System Package: 2 Packages are awarded. The tender balance of 34 Packages is under process.

Commissioning of Phase II is planned in Phases, starting from November 2025.  Phase II will be fully operational by December 2027.

Stage   KM ROD
Stage 1   15.5 Nov-25
Stage 2   33.0 Feb-26
Stage 3   26.0 Aug-26
Stage 4   11.7 Jan-27
Stage 5   11.0 Jun-27
Stage 6   19.9 Dec-27

CMRL is developing and implementing a TOOL called PMIS (Project Monitoring Information System) for Project Monitoring.  Issues like delay in Award of contract, Delay in Land Acquisition, Permission/ NOC from other stakeholders, delay in utility diversion, traffic diversion, etc. are monitored closely and timely mitigation measures are being taken up. 

How important is the OMR line which the Government is increasingly emphasizing?  In what ways the proposed line shall help the commuters in road traffic during peak hours?

OMR is the IT Corridor Highway of Chennai, housing many IT hubs.  Part of Corridor 3 of Phase II is planned along OMR.  The traffic on this road is heavy since many people spread all over Chennai city travel to their workplaces through this road. Once the entire Phase II is operational (including the OMR line) people from any part of Chennai can travel to their works spot by Metro. Further, CMRL is planning to construct an Elevated pedestrian walkway below the Viaduct connecting the Stations along OMR which will give direct connectivity to various IT hubs.  By using this facility, people can get to their work without getting on the road.

What are the Extension plans of the Chennai Metro for different phases?  In what ways you are planning to address the traffic issues for densely populated Northwest greater Chennai localities? 

Other than Phase II, which is under implementation, the DPR (Detailed Project Report) for the Extension of the Metro line from the Airport to Kilambakkam New Bus stand is in an advanced stage.  In addition, CMRL is in the process of preparing a Detailed Feasibility Report for the following lines.

  • Poonamallee Bypass to Sriperumbudur
  • Koyambedu/ Thirumangalam to Avadi via Mogappair and Ambattur
  • Siruseri to Kelambakkam
  • Kelambakkam to Kilambakkam

The Koyambedu to Avadi line via Mogappair and Ambattur will address the traffic issues of densely populated North West Chennai. 

What is the status of the merger of MRTS with CMRL which has been lying pending for a long?  What are the major obstacles?  In what ways the merger would help and benefit the people in the city? 

The merger of MRTS with CMRL is already agreed upon in principle by Railway and CMRL. Railways want to construct one additional track (4th line) between Chennai Beach and Park before handing over MRTS to CMRL. Land acquisition for the above is in progress.     The strategy for the merger of both is being worked out.  Since ST. Thomas Mount Station is a common interchange Station between Metro and MRTS, MRTS line will become an integral part of the Metro System and people from all parts of Chennai will be benefitted. 

As a successful and experienced technocrat what would be your message to young minds willing to join the Metro and Rail Industry? Any message for our readers?

Metro is using the best technologies in the world, for example in Phase II Civil-construction both underground and elevated. Underground tunneling below the existing corridors is challenging and needs expertise. In the case of Elevated construction, we are constructing 4 no’s spans on the balanced cantilever construction method, each spanning 100m that too with sharp curves. The work has to be executed without endangering the road traffic and two metro corridors below with utmost safety standards. 

Similarly, CMRL in Phase II is using more advanced CBTC signaling technology to increase reliability and train frequency. 

The trains are built to the latest standards for safety and comfort. 

Therefore, the young generation of engineers who join Metro has abundant exposure and career opportunities in the metro organization.

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