Metro Neo – A suitable and viable option for a crowded transportation system in India

MetroNeo undoubtedly will be a faster, safer, flexible, economic and cleaner MRTS system for an energy-efficient city transport that will operate with minimal noise and zero emissions towards a greener planet.

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Nashik Metro Neo
Nashik Metro Neo
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Introduction

Metro Neo in simple terms can be stated as an innovative cost-effective Urban Transport Solution for Tier – II and Tier – III Indian cities. High usage of personal transport and crowded roads with diverse traffic has long demanded an Indian centric solution to the problem. Thus, there has been a search for a cost-effective solution for crowded transportation in Tier-II and Tier-III Indian cities. The Maha Metro in India proposed an innovative solution and came up with the concept of Metro Neo. The new transportation system combined the best features of a mass rapid transport system across the globe.

A committee of transport experts was formed by the Ministry of Urban Transportation in India to address the solution for this issue and standardize the specification of MetroNeo by analysing and studying the best transit systems available around the world. The committee members included Dr. Brajesh Dixit (MD/MahaMetro), Mr Narasim Prasad (DRSO/Chennai Metro), Mr. Pramit Garg(Director/BD/DMRC), Mr. Janardan Prasad (Director/MoHUA) and Mr. Sanjay Kumar (Director/MoHUA) visited various manufacturers, operators and vendors to formulate the best solution for MetroNeo.

After its study in various countries and the feasibility report it was found that MetroNeo is a combination of the best features worldwide and possesses an innovative solution for crowded transportation in Tier-II and Tier-III Indian cities. It was found that new features like rubber-tired bi-articulated electric coaches, quality at par with the metro running on elevated or grade roads powered by overhead traction at a substantially lower cost to that of the heavy metro rail give it an edge and make it a better transportation option.

Metro Neo Coaches

The specifications of MetroNeo has been standardized in India. It has been approved by the ministry of housing and urban affairs as per the Metro Railways OM Act 2002 and has been approved by the railway board. It is also studied that level boarding, comfortable seats, automatic doors, robust communication and station and bus arrival information would ensure an effective and comfortable service.

Additionally, energy-efficient, air-conditioned, low floor coaches with regenerative braking, friendly for divyang people shall allow easy evacuation of passenger during emergencies through the flat ways. These coaches can negotiate sharp curves suitable to the narrow roads of Tier-II and Tier-III cities. Articulation of the coaches can be increased based on the ridership. MetroNeo’s overhead twin wire traction system running on 750 volts DC is easily installable, safe for passenger operations and cost-effective.

One DC traction substation every two to three kilometres are planned per section In the event a substation fails the adjacent substation can provide power to the section through the scada system. The coaches run on an automatic train protection mode with anti-collision safety features such as lane departure monitoring, forward and side-collision control, auto speed control and an auto braking application to maintain a safe distance between coaches. A control centre for overall monitoring of the coaches and stations with robust communication with station staff and drivers are also deployed. Automated fair collection and ticketing will be carried out either through transit cards or QR code tickets or through a mobile app.

Therefore, MetroNeo undoubtedly shall be faster, safer, flexible, economic and cleaner Mass Rapid Transit system for an energy-efficient city transport that shall operate with minimal noise and zero emissions towards a greener planet.

The details of Metro Neo can be summarized as under:

  • Metro Neo is a mass rapid transit system providing low-cost, energy-efficient and eco-friendly urban transport solutions for Tier-II and Tier-III cities.
  • Metro Neo systems are lighter and smaller than conventional Metro trains.
  • They cost about 25% of conventional systems but with similar facilities, and are cheaper than the other budget option Metrolite, which costs about 40% of the normal Metro.
  • Drawing traction power from overhead wires, Metro Neo will not run on track but on road. It is suitable for places where the traffic demand is around 8,000 passengers one way in peak time.
  • The Maharashtra government has already given a green signal for this state-of-the-art Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) for Nashik in India.

Metro Neo in India

The Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) that aims to provide a comfortable, rapid, energy-efficient and less noisy transport medium in the city of Nashik would be the first Metro Neo project in India. The project will be implemented by Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (Maha-Metro).

In 2019, the feasibility report was made in consultation with the Nashik Municipal Corporation. M/s RITES Limited proposed a Detail Project Report (DPR) was prepared by and after approval of the State Government, it was sent to Government of  India for sanction. The Report has identified a 32 km main route and a 24 km feeder route for the implementation of the Metro Neo project.

Frequency – There will be a train service every two minutes. The main elevated corridors will have a capacity of 15,000 PHPDT (peak hour peak direction traffic).

Stations – They will be similar to other Metro rail stations and will house staircases, lifts, escalators and information display for the passengers. The station entry and exit will be provided on both sides of the road.

The Metro-Neo in Nashik will have two corridors. These are as follows:

  1. Corridor 1: A 10-km long route having 10 stations– starting from Gangapur, Jalapur, Ganpat Nagar, Kale Nagar, Jehan Circle, Thatte Nagar, Shivaji Nagar, Panchavati, CBS and ending at Mumbai Naka.
  2. Corridor 2: A 22-km long route having 20 stations– starting from DHRUV Nagar, Shramik Nagar, Mahindra, Shaneshwar Nagar, Trimbak Rd, Satpur Colony, MIDC, ABB Circle, Parijat Nagar, MICO circle, CBS, Sharda Circle, Dwarka Circle, Gayatri Nagar, Ambedkar Nagar, Upnagar, Nehru Nagar, Datta Mandir, and ending at Nashik Road.

Central counterpart funding will be provided to:

  1. Kochi Metro Railway Phase-II of 11.5 km at a cost of Rs. 1,957.05 crore.
  • Chennai Metro Railway Phase–II of 118.9 km at a cost of Rs. 63,246 crore.
  • Bengaluru Metro Railway Project Phase 2A and 2B of 58.19 km at a cost of Rs. 14,788 crore.
  • Nagpur Metro Rail Project Phase-II at a cost of Rs. 5,976 crore.
  • Nashik Metro at a cost of Rs. 2,092 crore.

Metro Lite and Metro Neo have become the new buzzword for smaller cities across India to augment public transport as cheaper alternatives to conventional metro rail. Thane, Gorakhpur, Jammu, Srinagar, and Coimbatore administrations are in talks with the Centre to get these modes of transport apart from Nashik which has already approved Metro Neo.

  • While it costs Rs 222 crore per km to construct a conventional metro rail, a Metro Lite, which resembles a tramway, costs Rs 140 crore per km, and Metro Neo, which is more like an electric trolleybus, costs Rs 71 crore per km.
  • The Union Govt. in India has also said that Metro Lite and Metro Neo will be deployed to provide metro rail systems at much lesser cost with same experience, convenience and safety in Tier-2 cities and peripheral areas of Tier-1 cities.
  • Proposals from Gorakhpur and Delhi (Rithala to Narela link) for Metro Lite project, and from Nashik for a Metro Neo project have already been submitted with Union Govt.
  • Nashik in Maharashtra has proposed two Metro Neo lines of total 32 km with an estimated cost of Rs 2,100 crore. Delhi has proposed a Metro Lite project to provide last-mile connectivity in the peripheral areas.
  • Thane, Coimbatore, Warangal, Hyderabad, Jammu and Srinagar are other Indian cities planning to start Metro Neo and Metro Lite.
  • Thane has also readied the DPR (Detailed Project Report) for developing a Metro Lite corridor and is likely to send the proposal for approval.
  • Metro projects are capital-intensive and are viable for big cities with very high ridership and per hour per direction traffic (PHPDT)’. For smaller cities with lesser traffic, light rail solutions like Metro Lite or a Metro Neo will be more viable and cost-effective.
  • Both new technologies – Metro Neo and metro Lite will not only complement the conventional metro, but could be good alternatives for providing last-mile connectivity in the peripheral areas of big cities like Delhi.

India already has 717 km of metro rail network and work is under way in another 1,000 km stretch. By 2024-2025, India will have over 1,700 km of metro network, the second highest after China, which has over 7,000 km of metro network.

Metro Neo resembles an electric bus trolley and can cater to a ridership of upto 8,000 PHPDT, which can be extended upto 10,000. It does not require a standard gauge track. The coaches will have rubber tyres and will run on road slabs, which are either elevated or at grade. They will have dedicated tracks and will draw power supply from overhead traction.

They can have a single coach of around 12-metre length or two articulated coaches of around 18-metre length or three articulated coaches of around 24 metres — catering to upto 250 passengers.

The railway ministry has already finalised the specifications for Metro Lite and Metro Neo in India. Both the transport systems will be covered under the Metro Act.

Globally, many cities such as Budapest, Melbourne, Vienna, Zurich, Salzburg, San Francisco, Riyadh and Lyon have these cost and fuel-efficient public transport systems.

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