Nagpur Metro: A Green Revolution on Rails – Transforming City’s Mobility Landscape

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Nagpur Metro
Nagpur Metro

Introduction 

Imagine your travel time getting cut-off by 50% with a bonus of traveling seamlessly and punctually. Yes, you read it right. That’s the USP of the metros in India today that they not only cut-off your travel time but also make ‌traveling seamless and punctual with its rapid lines providing public an unwavering and unparalleled service. Nagpur Metro is nowhere behind in this rapidly running urban transit landscape which is in-turn the driver of growth and development. In this very sequence of development, one major aspect at global as well as national level is sustainable development.

As per the annual reports of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), Nagpur has witnessed a tremendous improvement in its air quality index especially in the PM10  content in its air. Not only the functioning & operations of the Nagpur Metro are unique and future-friendly but even the pre-operational catharsis ranging from planning, monitoring and constructing all were done in a unique and future-oriented model. It holds the title of completing the entire project in record time of 27 months or 2 years & 3 months. 

Nagpur, a city consistently lauded for its green spaces, top-ranked public transport, and excellent healthcare, offers an alluring blend of livability and progress. This vibrancy extends to its revered Deekshabhoomi pilgrimage site, home to the world’s largest Buddhist stupa. Now, the Nagpur Metro adds another layer to the city’s allure, revolutionizing urban mobility with headquarter of companies like Haldiram, Vico, Dinshaws & also the prominent technology companies like TCS, Tech Mahindra Infosys, LTI Mindtree, Accenture and many more. 

India’s marriage with urban mobility still remains a tightrope walk as we navigate our journey to be in the Top 5 economies of the world. Urban Mobility is an all-encompassing term taking in its loop things from Economic Development to Connectivity & Cultural Integration to Tourism Hotspot. With cities expanding their boundaries beyond, there is a strong need to promote rail based transportation systems into their sprawling geography that promise a punctual, seamless & dedicated public service to sustain the pace that new urban centers demand.  

Let’s delve in the journey of a not so normal yet punctual & record-holder metro system of India.  

Inception 

The story begins with its conceptualisation in the year 2012, when the government of India decided to equip cities having population more than 20 Lakh with metro rail system. This made Nagpur too eligible for a metro railway system. The then Union minister for urban development, Kamal Nath, proposed a metro rail in Nagpur and also instructed the authorities to carry the project further with DPR preparation which was further entrusted to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) in the February 2012 itself with a budget allocation of  ₹2.4 crore (equivalent to ₹4.5 crore) from the central ministry. 

Further a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) named Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) today known as  Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MAHA-METRO) came to life with the Government of India & Government of Maharashtra having 50:50 equity. It is the body entrusted with timely completion and successful execution of the project. 

DPR & Approval

As the DPR went to DMRC, two routes namely, Automotive square, Kamptee to MIHAN Metro depot and Prajapati Nagar, East Wardhaman Nagar to Lokmanya Nagar, Hingna with 17 stations & 19 stations at an estimated cost of ₹8,680 crore (US$1.1 billion). The length of the metro went initially from 30 Km to 42 Km in July 2012. 

Further, to comply with the norms of financial metrics as suggested by the then central government, precisely to keep the IRR above 8%, a realignment of the metro routes in the DPR was proposed. The original alignment of Corridor-I proposed was passing through Khamla Road, Airport Area after Sahakar Nagar before ending at MIHAN. 

To avoid extra costs & extra time into property acquisition for the original alignment, the alignment was re-calibrated to reach the Wardha Road only without going on Khamla Road. In the realignment it was decided that the North-South Corridor of the Nagpur Metro will pass through Wardha Road after Congress Nagar Metro Station. To cut down more on costs the underground alignment was also dealt away with and it was decided that after crossing existing intersection point of Wardha Road & Airport Road, the alignment will be shifted to the MIHAN area and alignment in this portion would be at grade running parallel to Wardha Road up to ROB and parallel to railway line thereafter up-to proposed Car Depot. 

After long revisions and realignments, the project DPR was finally submitted in November 2013. It was further approved by the central cabinet in August 2014. 

While the state government has already approved, the phase 2 of the project at an estimated cost of Rs 6,708 crore.but the DPR for the same lies with the central government with pending approval. The foundation stone for the project has already been laid by the Prime Minister on December 11, 2022.

Construction & Planning. 

This way the construction of Nagpur Metro’s Phase 1, a 38.215 kilometer project featuring both elevated and at-grade sections, began in 2015 with the Nagpur Metro authorities employing best-in-class planning & monitoring mechanism in order to achieve the benchmark of best quality work done among all the metro projects in India. 

The Nagpur Metro Rail project, with its over 20 major contractors, 30 subsystems, and vast scale, presented a significant management challenge. Timely completion and quality assurance (including 7 tests) were paramount concerns. To address these complexities, Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation Limited (NMRCL) adopted a digital project management approach from the outset. This decision aimed to improve project information flow, minimize cost and schedule overruns, and ensure successful project delivery.

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Weekly and quarterly data analysis enabled NMRCL to leverage model-based delay analysis. This provided management with a comprehensive, real-time picture of the project, facilitating efficient decision-making.

Benefits of Model-Based Delay Analysis:

  1. Integrated Project View: Linked the 3D model, schedule, and cost for a holistic project understanding.
  2. Proactive Flaw Detection: Enabled timely rectification of construction sequencing flaws by simulating the schedule with the 3D-model.
  3. Real-Time Progress Monitoring: Facilitated model-based monitoring of construction progress during execution.

System Specifications

  • Top Speed: 90 kmph
  • Average Speed: 33 kmph
  • Track Gauge: Standard Gauge–1435 mm
  • Electrification: 25 kV, 50 Hz AC OHE
  • Signaling: Communication-based Train Control (CBTC)

Lines of Nagpur Metro 

Phase: 01 

The Nagpur Metro Rail Project spans 38.215 kilometers and comprises two corridors, featuring 36 stations and 2 depots strategically located for optimal passenger service as: 

  1. Line 1 – Orange Line: Automotive Square – Khapri

Length: 19.658 km

Type: Elevated

Depot: MIHAN Depot

Number of Stations: 22

Station Names: Automotive Square, Nari Road, Indora Square, Kadvi Square, GaddiGodam Square, Kasturchand Park, Zero Mile, Sitabuldi (interchange), Congress Nagar, Rahate Colony, Ajni Square, Chhatrapati Square, Jaiprakash Nagar, Ujjwal Nagar, Airport, Airport South, New Airport and Khapri.

  1. Line 2 – Aqua Line: Lokmanya Nagar – Prajapati Nagar

Length: 19.407 km

Type: Elevated

Depot: Hingna Depot

Number of Stations: 20

Station Names: Prajapati Nagar, Vaishno Devi Square, Ambedkar Square, Telephone Exchange, ChittarOli Square, Agrasen Square, Dosar Vaisya Square, Nagpur Railway Station, Cotton Market, Sitabuldi (interchange), Jhansi Rani Square, Institute of Engineers, Shankar Nagar Square, LAD Square, Dharampeth College, Subhash Nagar, Rachana Ring Road Junction, Vasudev Nagar, Bansi Nagar and Lokmanya Nagar
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Phase: 2 

Nagpur Metro’s Phase 2 expands upon the existing network, reaching new areas in all directions. Key extensions include reaching Kanhan in the north, Butibori MIDC in the south, Transport Nagar (Kapsi) in the east, and Hingna in the west. The project encompasses a mix of elevated and at-grade sections: 1.2 kilometers at-grade with 2 stations, and 42.6 kilometers elevated with 30 stations. Additionally, a future fifth corridor branching out from Line-2 at Vasudev Nagar towards Wadi is under consideration.

  1. Line-1 (Orange Line) Reach 1A: Khapri to Butibori MIDC ESR

Length: 18.7 km

Number of Stations: 10

Station Names: Eco Park, Metro City, Ashokvan, Dongargaon, Mohgaon, Meghdoot CIDCO, Butibori Police Station, Mhada Colony, MIDC KEC and MIDC-ESR

  1. Line-1 (Orange Line) – Reach 2A: Automotive Square to Kanhan

Length: 13 km

Number of Stations: 12

Station Names: Pili Nadi, Khasara Fata, All India Radio, Kheri Fata, Lok Vihar, Lekha Nagar, Cantonment, Kamptee Police Station, Kamptee Municipal Council, Dragon Palace, Golf Club and Kanhan

  1. Line-2 (Aqua Line) – Reach 3A: Lokmanya Nagar to Hingna

Length: 6.6 km

Number of Stations: 7

Catchment Area: Mount View, Rajiv Nagar, Wanadongri, APMC, Raipur, Hingna Bus Station and Hinga

  1. Line-2 (Aqua Line) – Reach 4A: Prajapati Square to Transport Nagar

Length: 5.5 km

Number of Stations: 3

Stations: Parsi, Kapsi Khurd, Transport Nagar

  1. Line-2 (Aqua Line) – Reach 5: Vasudev Nagar – Wadi

Length: 4.5 km

Number of Stations: 3

Catchment Area: MIDC Hinda, Pardsinga, and Wadi

Status: This extension has not been approved. It may be taken up in Nagpur Metro’s Phase 3.

Latest Update
While 4 of the total 13 Packages including civil & electrical have been awarded, 7 remain under bidding at various stages and 2 tenders have been cancelled. The companies awarded with contracts include LKT, Enia, RVNL & Colossus Infra.. 
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Connectivity Through Lines 

Connectivity is the key element that defines the cities today. More connectivity translates into more business, more exchange, more integration and most importantly more convenience into the thick and thin of transportation across the city.  

Pre-Metro Scenario – A crowded Canvas 

Nagpur’s transportation landscape, prior to the metro’s arrival, presented a complex picture with three distinct categories:

  • Public Transport: This included:
    • Mini City Buses (seating 20)
    • Large State Transport Buses (seating 50)
    • Chartered Buses used by schools and offices
    • Buses from neighboring states

This system, while offering various options, often faced limitations.

  • Intermediate Public Transport (IPT): Dominated by auto-rickshaws, IPT served as a crucial mode of transport despite being a bit more expensive.
  • Private Vehicles: This category encompassed bicycles, two-wheelers, and cars of all sizes.

A Chaotic Network: The presence of such a diverse range of vehicles vying for limited space on the roads created a congested environment. Traffic intersections were particularly notorious for gridlock. With minimal space between vehicles, average speeds remained a slow 15-20 kilometers per hour. This scenario translated into longer travel times, frustration for commuters, and a strain on the city’s infrastructure.

Some Failed Initiatives: Nagpur’s Pre-Metro Mobility Struggles

Prior to the metro’s arrival, Nagpur authorities grappled with the challenge of improving urban mobility. One such attempt involved subsidizing public bus fares to entice ridership. However, this strategy failed to attract higher and middle-income groups who prioritized speed over cost. Public buses simply couldn’t compete with the convenience of private vehicles.

Another initiative, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, aimed to create dedicated lanes for public buses, theoretically expediting travel times. However, the implementation lacked the finesse needed to seamlessly integrate the BRT system with the existing public transport network. This resulted in a disjointed user experience, failing to achieve the desired synergy between commuters and the public transport system. Consequently, the objective of achieving an optimal distribution of transportation modes (mode share) remained an elusive dream.

Post- Metro Scenario

Nagpur Metro’s Phase 2 is more than just an extension; it’s a bridge connecting people, places, and opportunities. This exciting expansion will reach a population of over 1 million residing in key areas surrounding Nagpur.

  • Satellite Cities: Phase 2 stretches its reach to satellite cities like:
    • Kapsi: A major transport hub, Kapsi will benefit from a direct connection to Nagpur, improving movement of goods and people.
    • Hingna: This rapidly developing town will see a surge in accessibility, attracting residents and businesses alike.
  • Industrial Powerhouses: The expansion connects to:
    • Butibori: The district’s largest industrial estate, Butibori, will witness a significant improvement in worker commutes. Thousands employed in the 750+ units can look forward to a faster and more reliable travel option.
    • Hingna: Home to its own industries, Hingna will benefit from a dual advantage – a connected workforce and enhanced business opportunities.
  • Mining Marvels: The Kanhan route passes through Kamptee, a significant town with residents who frequently travel to Nagpur for work and education. The metro will significantly reduce travel times, making commutes a breeze.

With a total length of 82 km upon completion, Nagpur Metro Phase 2 paints a brighter picture of connectivity, promising a faster, more efficient, and more accessible future for the city and its residents.

Ridership Figures of Nagpur Metro 

Nagpur Metro has witnessed a positive trend in ridership. In February, daily ridership surpassed 93,000 passengers, a significant increase. However, this number remains below the level needed for the project to break even.

Prior to the pandemic, ridership even crossed the 1 lakh mark, but it dipped after fare hikes implemented for revenue rationalization.Despite the ridership growth, Nagpur Metro’s first phase still incurs losses. Even after considering non-fare revenue streams, the average monthly loss stands at ₹3.5 crore. 

Nagpur Metro: A Marvel of Sustainability

Nagpur Metro isn’t just revolutionizing urban mobility; it’s also spearheading a movement towards a greener future for the city. Here’s how:

  • Reduced Emissions:  Data from Hingna Road, served by Lokmanya Nagar and Bansi Nagar stations, showcases a significant decrease in air pollutant levels since the metro’s inception. Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions have dropped steadily, from 41 in 2019 to 23.43 in 2021. Similarly, Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) levels have dipped from 14 in 2019 to 8.38 in 2021.
  • Combating Congestion: By offering a fast, reliable alternative to private vehicles, the metro reduces traffic congestion, a major contributor to air pollution. While vehicle registration in Nagpur has increased by 20% in 2022, the metro helps manage this growth by encouraging a shift towards public transport.
  • Improved Last-Mile Connectivity: Recognizing the importance of seamless last-mile connectivity, authorities have initiated shared auto services at Kasturchand Park and a shuttle bus service linking the airport with the Airport Metro Station. These efforts ensure a smooth transition between metro travel and reaching final destinations.

Challenges Faced by Nagpur Metro

Based on the information provided, here are some of the key challenges faced by the Nagpur Metro:

  • Financial Sustainability: While ridership is increasing, it hasn’t yet reached the break-even point. This means the metro incurs monthly losses despite non-fare revenue streams.
  • Last-Mile Connectivity: While initial efforts have been made with shared autos and shuttle services, a more comprehensive feeder network is needed to effectively connect metro stations with surrounding areas. This will encourage more people to use the metro for their entire journey, not just part of it.
  • Fare Optimization: The balance between attracting ridership and generating revenue through fares needs to be addressed. Fare hikes implemented for revenue rationalization may have deterred some potential riders, particularly those who are cost-conscious.
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Nagpur Metro: A Green Revolution on Rails - Transforming City's Mobility Landscape 8
  • Competition from Private Vehicles: The convenience of private vehicles remains a challenge, especially for short trips.
  • Public Awareness: Encouraging a modal shift towards public transport requires ongoing public awareness campaigns highlighting the benefits of the metro, such as reduced travel times and environmental advantages.

Overall, Nagpur Metro faces the challenge of balancing ridership, revenue generation, and service optimization to achieve long-term financial sustainability and become the preferred mode of public transport for Nagpur residents.

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Nagpur Metro: A Green Revolution on Rails - Transforming City's Mobility Landscape 9

Conclusion

Nagpur Metro stands as a testament to India’s growing commitment to sustainable urban mobility solutions. By offering a rapid, reliable, and eco-friendly alternative to private vehicles, the metro is not only transforming the city’s transportation landscape but also paving the way for a cleaner and healthier future. While challenges such as achieving financial sustainability and ensuring seamless last-mile connectivity remain, Nagpur Metro’s unwavering focus on innovation and passenger experience positions it for continued success. As ridership grows and the network expands, Nagpur Metro is poised to become the backbone of a vibrant, connected, and sustainable Nagpur.

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