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Metro Railways in India: An Overview

The Indian Metro Rail system has grown from 35 kilometres (including 27 kilometres of Kolkata Metro) in 2002 to 859 Kms (till March 2023) in the last twenty- years, with sixteen operational metro systems in fifteen cities. This already decent metro system is expanding swiftly and significantly. By 2024, roughly 600 km of additional metro lines are expected to be operational, with the completion of five under-construction metro systems in Navi Mumbai, Pune, Kanpur, Bhopal, and Indore city. A further 1050 kilometres have been planned and are expected to be developed over five years beginning in 2024, for 1650 kilometres of additional network in the next ten years. There are seven more cities in India with metro projects in the planning and development stages: Agra, Patna, Surat, Meerut, Visakhapatnam, Varanasi, and Dehradun (Doon Valley), and ten cities with proposed metro projects: Gwalior, Guwahati, Srinagar, Coimbatore, Ludhiana, Prayagraj, Ranchi, Jabalpur, Bareilly, and Gorakhpur.

After an extended absence since the development of the first metro project of the country, the Calcutta (Kolkata) Metro, which began operations in 1984, was owned and operated by Metro Railway, Kolkata, initially and later on became the 17th zone of Indian Railways in 2010 under the operational management of Ministry of Railways, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (DMRC) launched its first section of metro corridor in 2002. Based on the enormous success of the Delhi Metro, other systems have been developed in Bangalore, Mumbai, Lucknow, and other cities to alleviate the overburdened urban transportation infrastructure.

In the coming ten years, India will likely have 32 or more operational metro rail networks. This mass transit system is establishing itself as an effective urban transportation alternative, assisting in the growth of fast-developing cities. The rapid expansion would directly impact the demand for present-day metro coaches and the emergence of a flourishing Metro Rail Coach Industry in India.

The growth of the Metro Sector in recent times: The initial phase

DMRC’s first eight metro coaches were imported from Germany in 2009 and flown to India by AN-24 aircraft. With the constant development in demand for metro systems since then, three coach manufacturing facilities and units have been set up in the country. Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), an Indian public sector undertaking, signed a collaboration agreement towards technological exchange with South Korean Hyundai Rotem in 2002, becoming the first to indigenously manufacture for the Delhi Metro Phase-I contract and supplying 220 metro cars. BEML has successfully supplied over 1,100 metro cars to various projects in India, including a large order of Rs. 400 Cr. / 42 metro cars for Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd in February and another order of 378 metro cars worth Rs. 3015 Cr. is currently being executed for Mumbai Metro corridors 2A, 2B, and 7.

Bombardier – Rail equipment division of Canada established a plant in Savli, Gujarat, in 2008 with an investment of EUR 33 million (approx. INR 225 Cr.). Bombardier Transportation has served many metro projects, such as Bangalore Metro Phase II, Ahmedabad Metro, and Mumbai Metro Phase III, and has supplied DMRC with the world’s largest fleet of 776 metro cars.

Alstom Transport India Ltd., a French multinational, developed its manufacturing unit in Sri City, Andhra Pradesh, in 2012. Since then, Alstom has served projects such as Chennai, Kochi, Lucknow, and Mumbai Metro. In September 2018, the company received a significant order for 248 cars worth Rs. 2,500 Cr for Mumbai Metro Line 3. Alstom successfully delivered India’s first semi-high-speed regional train for the Delhi-Meerut RRTS project in May last year (first quarter of FY 22-23). The first train was delivered less than a year after production began. The train is a hundred per cent indigenous production and is entirely made and manufactured in India at Alstom’s factory in Savli (Gujarat). The semi-high-speed regional train has been designed to operate at 180 km/h and is expected to cut travel time between Delhi and Meerut by nearly forty per cent. These trains are energy efficient and designed to provide travellers with premium comfort and safety features, including disabled people. Besides the technological collaboration with BEML, Hyundai Rotem of South Korea has supplied metro cars for several projects in India, including DMRC phases I, II, and III, Bangalore metro, Hyderabad metro and Ahmedabad Metro. Ahmedabad Metro coaches were produced in a plant in Changwon, South Korea. In 2018, CRRC Nanjing, a subsidiary of China’s CRRC Corporation, sold 76 cars to Noida Metro for Rs. 800 crores from its Chinese production divisions. CRRC Dailan delivered 69 metro coaches for the Nagpur Metro, while Zhuzhou supplied 36 coaches for the Gurgaon Metro and had orders for 12 coaches for the Navi Mumbai Metro.

Export of Metro Coaches: Beginning of a New Era

Alstom Transport India Ltd. secured the Sydney metro project order in 2014, ushering in a new era for Indian exports. The 108-coach ‘Make in India’ rolling stock order for Sydney Metro was constructed at Alstom’s Sri City facility, with the final batch of coaches delivered in December 2018. Alstom received another export order for a $1.4 billion light metro rail project in Montreal for 106 trains with 212 coaches (2 coach trains). Bombardier also received export orders in 2017 for 450 metro rail coaches to be delivered to Australia and components to be sent to Brazil, Australia, and Saudi Arabia.

The ‘Make in India’ Push

To push Indian manufacturing and meet the rising demand for metro coaches, the Government of India made it mandatory in 2017 to procure a minimum of seventy- five per cent of train cars and a minimum of twenty-five per cent of critical equipment and sub-systems from within the country under the ‘‘Make in India’ initiative. Foreign suppliers could either establish independent manufacturing facilities or collaborate with Indian manufacturers to accomplish this. Considering the vast potential and opportunity, several companies have already made their moves and established manufacturing facilities in the country. The central government is also working with the RDSO (Research Designs and  Standards Organisation) to standardise the metro rail environment. The car’s width has been set at 2.9 metres and 3.2 metres. The maximum operational speed has been set at 80 km/h, with a design speed of 90 km/h. Instead of the current four-car, six-car, and eight-car arrangements, the metro trains now have been planned to be in three, six or nine-car configurations.

Indian Metro Coach Business

According to initial estimates (considering 2019 as the base period), it was anticipated that the nation would require nearly 2,500 metro coaches over five years (2019 -24) with a system length of around 600 kilometres. Thus, a Rs. 25,000 Cr. business from Indian orders was anticipated for the metro rail industry in India during the envisaged period. Considering the present status of the metro sector, the nation is well ahead of the targeted growth in the evaluated period. Similarly, for five years beginning in 2024, fresh demand is estimated to be around 4500 coaches, amounting to a business worth Rs. 45,000 Cr for the metro rail coaches from Indian orders alone. This brings the Indian demand for metro coaches over the next ten years to around 7,000 coaches, equating to a business worth approximately 70,000 crore.

India is also a low-cost producer, and there continue to be low wages and salaries for the workers and employees. This, combined with significant domestic potential and opportunities, makes India one of the attractive locations for the Metro Coach Industry. New Indian and foreign enterprises are likely to enter India’s metro coach manufacturing industry.

Self-Sufficiency in Rolling Stock Manufacturing

Companies have either begun or have plans to start developing facilities for manufacturing rail coaches in India. Currently, four companies are manufacturing metro coaches in India:

• BEML (PSU, Ministry of Defence)

• Alstom (Alstom Sricity, Andhra Pradesh)

• Bombardier (Bombardier Savli, Gujrat)

• Titagarh Firema (Kolkata, West Bengal)

Several companies are manufacturing various Metro components in India:

• Knorr-Bremse, Baghola, Haryana

• Faiveley Transport, New Delhi

• Automator Alliance Limited, Noida, UP

• Dellner India, Noida, UP

• Mitsubishi, Bangalore

• Sidwal, New Delhi

• Schunk, Bengaluru

• Siemens, Nasik Maharashtra

• ABB, Bangalore

Additionally, ample domestic capabilities are also being developed to construct civil structures. A vast planned expansion of metro rail in 32+ Indian cities has created a lucrative and still largely untapped Metro Rail Coach Industry. The government’s enormous and stringent ‘Make in India’ push and the nation’s ability to manufacture at lower than global costs encourage manufacturers to set up units in India. With four operational metro rail coach factories, two coach factories at advanced stages and another two metro coach factories under active planning, many SMEs engaged in manufacturing metro components, India is set to become a global hub for metro coach manufacturing and the necessary ancillary industry around it including many critical components. India is set to become a significant exporter of Metro Coaches around the World.

In June this year, Medha Servo Drives Private Limited, a Telangana-based company that designs and manufactures complex and typical electrical and electronic railway commodities, established India’s largest private rail coach plant in Kondakal village, Rangareddy district near Hyderabad. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao inaugurated the facility, expressing delight that a domestic industry would produce train carriages in the state. Along with the opening of the largest private-sector manufacturing facility in the state, the state government was also particularly pleased with the company’s recent Monorail order from Mumbai. Telangana State Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (TSIIC) and Medha Group agreed in 2017 to develop a private rail coach plant. Industries Minister K.T. Rama Rao laid the foundation stone for the facility on August 13, 2020. With an investment of Rs 1,000 crore, the private rail coach factory will have a production capacity of 500 coaches and 50 locomotives per year.

The manufacturing unit spanning nearly a hundred acres shall develop and produce various forms of railway rolling stock, including coaches, train sets, locomotives, Metro trains, and Monorails. The Rail Coach Factory promised to Telangana as part of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014 could not become a reality within six months of the state’s establishment. However, with the opening of the new facility, the state has finally taken a significant stride towards becoming a major player in the railway industry. At the inaugural ceremony, the Medha Group, MD, announced that the company had invested around Rs 400 crore in the project’s first phase. He informed that the proposed investment for the project is Rs 805 crore, and the project has already provided employment to 558 people, with an additional 500 people benefiting indirectly. It was added that the organisation plans to employ around 1,000 more people shortly.

The firm additionally announced that they hope to complete the Monorail project’s overall coach manufacturing at the facility by the end of this year. The group plans to produce railway components for the country and nations across the globe in the second and third phases of the project. Medha, which claims to be the only Indian company with in-house R&D capabilities, are now producing bogies for the Indian Railways. The manufacturing group aims to shortly begin producing complete Mumbai Monorail train sets. Medha provides services and serves railway customers worldwide through its subsidiaries in Spain, Italy, the United States, Brazil, and Poland. Medha Servo Drives established a joint venture (JV) with Swiss railway rolling stock producer Stadler Rail to enhance its rail coach manufacturing capabilities. The joint venture aims to establish a new factory in Telangana. Stadler Rail, headquartered in Bussnang, Switzerland, has been a significant railway industry player for over 80 years. It holds a monopoly on the global railway rolling stock production industry. The projected Telangana Unit has been planned to be used by the JV to manage and serve the tenders from the Indian market and exports from customers across the Asia Pacific.

Medha has been delivering various items to railways since 1990 and has grown to become India’s leading provider of propulsion equipment (Electronics). The company was founded in 1984 and has a long history in the sector. Medha is the world’s largest manufacturer of railway traction motors and the central Indian supplier of advanced signalling and safety equipment. The company’s dedication to innovation and excellence has propelled it to the forefront of the industry. In the last many years, Medha has successfully brought revolutionary technologies to India, such as solar inverters, battery electric vehicle propulsion systems, and canal automation systems. By signing an MoU to develop large propulsion motors for the Indian Navy in the Asia Pacific region, the company has also entered the defence manufacturing sector.

Discover the endless possibilities of our city’s Metro at InnoMetro, our flagship Expo and Conference. Be an active participant in shaping its future towards a more sustainable tomorrow. Stay informed and join us to take a step towards a brighter future.


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