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Sustainable Metro Transportation for Reducing Carbon Footprints

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Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) 

The Government of India has set a target of 33% reduction in emissions intensity as part of its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), with transportation being one of the main sectors with significant mitigation potential. TERI has been working with the Ministry of Railways to assist in the development of emission reduction plans for the ministry with a time horizon of 2030. IR initiatives for operational and technical energy efficiency, as well as efforts to shift a larger share of traffic to electric traction, were modelled, and the resulting numbers were estimated. Following Board approval, the strategies were communicated with MoEFCC for inclusion in the INDC document.

 The INDC document submitted by India in October 2015 was extensively discussed at the UNFCCC’s 21st Conference of Parties (CoP 21) in Paris in November 2015. The Energy and Resources Institute also assisted the Ministry of Railways, the key ministry for India’s transport sector conversations, in organising the Government of India’s official transport sector event at COP21. The INDC was accepted by India the next year, and India now had an officially required target of activities for reaching its INDC commitments for 2030. One of the most important transport emissions mitigation plans agreed to by the Government of India was to increase Indian Railways‘ share of freight traffic from 35-36% to 45% by 2030.

In its sixteenth session (COP-16), the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC resolved that developing countries should additionally submit a Biennial Update Report (BUR) as an update to the most recently submitted national communication. In January 2016, India submitted its first Biennial Update Report (BUR-1). In December 2018, India submitted its second Biennial Update Report (BUR-2) to the UNFCCC, which includes updates from the EnHM directorate. BUR-3 is currently being prepared.

Some of the key initiatives to be taken as IR’s Role in India’s NDC for Combating Climate Change are stated as under:

DFC bridge

  • IR should strive to increase the railways’ share of overall land-based freight transport from 36% to 45% by 2030.
  • IR should prioritise the establishment of Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) across the country. The first two corridors are already being built. Over a 30-year period of time, the first phase of the project is expected to cut emissions by 457 million tonnes of CO2.
  • Increase the proportion of renewable energy in the country’s energy mix.
  • Railways should increase energy efficiency for both diesel and electric propulsion, allowing the country to reduce GHG emissions.
  • The PAT scheme to be introduced in the railway sector.
  • Use of 5% biofuel blend in traction diesel fuel.
  • Increase water efficiency by 20% by 2030.
  • Planting trees to boost carbon sink.
  • Pollution Control and Waste Management.
  • Adopting best practices for green buildings, industrial units, and other establishments for resource and infrastructure management in order to achieve environmental sustainability in the growth of IR.
  • Participation in ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’.

Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Climate change has had a wide-ranging impact on both human and environmental systems. As a result, Climate Change Conferences are organised on a yearly basis under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). India has been participating in these conferences through the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

Zero Carbon

The approval of the Paris Agreement in the Conference of Parties (COP-21) in December 2015 was a crucial step towards addressing the issue. Participating countries submitted near-term objectives to reduce GHG emissions, known as ‘Nationally Determined Contributions,’ or NDCs, which would be reviewed and extended every five years. MoEFCC recognised the Ministry of Railways as the Nodal Ministry for an event on ‘Transport Sector GHG Emissions’ at the ‘Indian Pavilion’ as part of COP-21 in Paris, France. The Ministry of Railways also took part in COP-22 in Marrakech, Morocco, in November 2016, COP-23 in Bonn, Germany, in November 2017, and COP-24 in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018. Sessions on sustainable transportation networks were held at the India Pavilion.

Sustainable Railway Metro Service for Urban India

Introduction

suburban railway

Rapid urbanisation in emerging countries in the twenty-first century is characterised by improvements in technology. According to research, the urban population in developing nations would rise by five million people each month on average over the next four decades, accounting for 95% of worldwide urban growth. Developing countries, such as India, are not far behind, with urban population development playing a major role. If we predict that the urban population would increase from 370 million in 2011 to 600 million by 2031, policymakers will face a major burden in meeting the problems not only for infrastructure development but also for financial allocation. The European Transport Conference has offered a sustainable model for Metro Railways Service in India to tackle such issues.

Present Urban Metro Rail Systems in India

Kolkata Metro

In 1984, Kolkata saw the implementation of the country’s first urban rail (metro) project. It is a trial-and-error indigenous system built with uncertain financing, judicial injunctions, and an erratic supply of construction materials. In around 12 years, the first segment of the 3-kilometre stretch of the Kolkata Metro was completed. The network currently spans 27 kilometres. It has incurred massive losses since operations began. There is also a decrease in passengers, and the operating ratio decreased from 311 to 254 between 2011 and 2015, as per a few studies conducted.

However, Kolkata Metro, despite all odds and being the slowest metro system in the country with most of the projects and development of new corridors being hugely delayed, recently achieved a remarkable feat of a successful trial run of the first underwater metro system. The Kolkata Metro on April 12 conducted a test run of the country’s first underwater metro. With history being created, for the first time in India, a metro completed an underwater journey under the Hooghly River. The metro rake undertook its maiden journey from Howrah Maidan to Esplanade. The tunnel through which the metro rake ran is 13 metres below the riverbed and 33 metres below ground level. The trial runs between Howrah Maidan and Esplanade station will be conducted for the next five to seven months, following which regular services on this stretch will begin. 

The Delhi Metro (DMRC – Delhi Metro Railway Corporation) became operational in 2002, paving the path for metro development in other Indian cities. Seventeen of these cities presently have operational metro systems, and more are being built. The Mumbai Metro, which began operations in 2014, is a one-of-a-kind Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project. At the end of the 35-year concession period, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) was formed to design, finance, build, operate, maintain, and transfer the system to the state government. The designated concessionaire, Reliance Group, and a local government agency own 74% and 26% of the equity, respectively.

Development of sustainable Metro Railway Service

In general, two primary components must be emphasised during the proposal and pre-construction design stages :

Public & Private Partnership (PPP) – Public-private partnerships, in which private entities play a larger role in achieving economic sustainability, are of vital importance. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are increasingly being used by governments in both high-income and low- and middle-income nations to create urban rail projects. According to research, this module demonstrates sustainability and profitability in nations such as Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Singapore, Malaysia, and others. According to data from the World Bank’s Private Participation in Infrastructure database, 16 rail projects incorporating private participation were completed in the first decade of the 2000s, more than double the number of projects completed in the 1990s (World Bank Report). Since 2011, 15 more projects have completed financial close, with a total investment amount of INR 228,000 Cr, including both public and private investments. Additionally, the significant 71-kilometre Hyderabad Metro PPP project, which was awarded in 2011, immediately cuts direct public investment.

 

Environmental Benefit – One of the most important components of the twenty-first century has always been environmental protection. Great care must be taken to conserve the environment at all stages of its operation, from planning to construction and operation. While trees are planted for every tree felled for construction purposes, the trains are powered by electricity and do not use any non-renewable fuel. A case study of the Delhi Metro demonstrates the quantification of climate change benefits from its operations. DMRC has already registered their initiatives, such as the regenerative braking system, the modal shift system, and the energy efficiency system under the United Nations’ CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) with a Gold Standard. These improvements are projected to lower emissions by around 5.7 lakhs per year and make it more environmentally friendly.

DMRC has always attempted to use environmentally friendly practices in its construction activities. For example, DMRC plants ten trees for every tree taken down during construction to ensure that the green cover is not depleted as a result of Metro’s growth. Plantations are carried out wherever possible at depots, residential complexes, and stations. In comparison to other modes of transportation, the following chart demonstrates exceptionally low emissions of carbon dioxide, according to environmental studies on the Delhi Metro (DMRC):    

CO2 Emission from different modes of transportation
Mode of Emission Value Unit
Passenger Car 67 gmCO2/Km/Passenger
Taxi – CNG 72 gmCO2/Km/Passenger
Two Wheeler – Petrol 28 gmCO2/Km/Passenger
Auto Rickshaw – CNG 35 gmCO2/Km/Passenger
Bus – CNG 27 gmCO2/Km/Passenger
Delhi Metro 20 gmCO2/Km/Passenger
  • Source – Green Metro (DMRC)

 

Significant Challenges for Sustainable Metro Railway Service – 

According to ‘Niti Aayog’ estimates, urban India’s population would double by 2050, posing one of the most challenging issues for executing sustainable metro projects. In such a case, an apprehensive matrix for future projects on budget allocation, planning, execution schedules, traffic analysis and management, BOT or PPP proposal, environmental management, revenue generation, and operation management must be developed. 

Other than the above, there is a need to address the following issues to ease up the challenges :

(i) Route mapping for the economical project cost. 

(ii) The acquisition of land and resettlement for the upcoming need for a new route.

(iii) Sort out legal hurdles at the community level involving Urban local bodies.

(iv) Property mapping along with the smooth compensation. 

(v) Integration of the interdepartmental bottlenecks.

Additionally, below listed are some of the state-of-the-art technological aspects being considered for the rail system to be more efficient and reliable – 

  • Prioritise urban rail over the urban road.
  • Fast-track project management and execution.
  • Lesser friction rolling stock for lesser consumption of recourses and ease of maintenance.
  • Lesser power transmission loss equipment.
  • Alternative energy to be adopted to run the rolling stock.
  • Long-term capacity design management.
  • Socio-economic feasibility assessment.

Conclusion – 

 Because of local demand and greater economic goals, Indian cities have resurrected and developed metro rail projects. Pollution, congestion, increased travel time, and parking are all issues in Indian and other growing cities. We must address these difficulties by implementing integrated policies that are strategically designed and implemented in close collaboration with metro train systems, such as establishing dynamic activity centres to boost the knowledge economy, urban design, and value capture to finance growth. 

Community participation should be at the heart of urban policies in order to foster a sense of ownership of the urban area and smooth project implementation. The Indian metro rail sector is in its infancy. The current political leadership-inspired ambition to create metro systems in 50 cities allows India to develop its urban areas by relying on the importance of urban rail. Sustainable urban development goals in Indian cities necessitate savvy policymakers to promote innovative finances. Local governments, transit agencies, developers, landowners, and communities working together might generate progressive transportation investment and steer towards sustainable urban growth. 

 

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