“We operate the longest metrorail network in India”

At a recent conference on “Urban Rail Systems in APAC” organised by Global Mass Transit and India Infrastructure, S.S. Joshi, Director – Rolling Stock & Signalling, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) delivered a presentation and spoke about the issues faced by DMRC in the areas of rolling stock signalling and automated fare collection (AFC) as well as the opportunities presented by the national government’s new Metro Rail Policy 2017. Excerpts…

Along with the expansion of the metro systems, DMRC is also focusing on cost-cutting through innovation and technology, such as condition monitoring, maintenance and asset management, as well as initiatives to reduce the carbon footprint. The majority of the construction work under Phase III has been given a platinum rating by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).

DMRC has commissioned 20 MW of solar energy and targets to implement a 50 MW solar photovoltaic system (PV) plan on the flat/curved roof of DMRC’s stations (existing and upcoming), train depots, and other buildings by 2021. In addition, DMRC is also procuring electricity from offsite solar power plants of capacity 500 MW located in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. By 2021, around one-third of DMRC’s energy requirement will be met through solar energy.

New Metro Rail Policy 2017 and DMRC’s initiatives

Most metrorail projects have been financed by the central government in partnership with state governments, while some have been funded by the state governments (either on their own or through private partnership). The new Metro Rail Policy 2017 aims to tap alternative and innovative funding sources to supplement the budgetary resources committed to the development of metrorail systems. It seeks to ensure that the proposals are prepared and appraised in a comprehensive manner to enhance urban mobility.

Further, the new policy has mandated private participation as well as standardised technical parameters for infrastructure systems (including rolling stock). DMRC has planned or taken the initiative to incorporate private participation.

Rolling stock

In April 2017, India’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUD) announced new mandatory conditions and standardised norms for the procurement of rolling stock, related critical equipment, and sub-systems as well as signalling systems for metrorail projects.

As per the new mandatory conditions, a minimum of 75 per cent of the tendered quantity of metro cars shall be manufactured indigenously, with progressive indigenisation of content, for which the contractor may either establish an independent manufacturing facility in India or enter into a partnership with Indian manufacturers.

MoHUD has standardised the body of train coaches into two categories:  3.2-metre wide and 2.9-metre rolling stock, and the configuration of trains has been fixed to three-car, six-car, and nine-car. In addition, the maximum operational speed has been standardised at 80 km/hr and the maximum design speed has been fixed at 90 km/hr. The interior and exterior designs can be customised by the authorities.

DMRC’s initiative: In November 2018, MoHUD approved DMRC’s proposal to allow private operators to operate trains on Phase IV of Delhi Metro and provide compensation on a per kilometre basis. DMRC plans to procure 300 metro coaches on a lease basis through the public–private partnership (PPP) model.

In September 2017, DMRC floated an expression of interest (EoI) to procure 100 cars for Delhi Metro Line 5 on a gross cost contract basis. In March 2019, the authority shortlisted 11 applicants from the EoI stage to participate in the request for proposal (RfP) stage. Under the gross cost contract, the supplier/operator is paid an agreed fixed sum for the duration of the contract. The last date for the submission of proposals is March 26, 2019.

Further, DMRC has floated some tenders to outsource its operation and maintenance (O&M) activities.  These tenders are being floated on a pilot basis. If the trials are successful, then DMRC plans to invite bids for the majority of the Phase IV contracts as O&M contracts. In February 2019, the authority launched tenders to procure electric buses as well as provide O&M for them.


The continuous automatic train control (ATC) system based on the communication-based train control system (CBTC) will be deployed for signalling on all metrorail projects for the movement of trains between stations. The CBTC system will be based on moving block technology as well as be capable of providing bidirectional movement. Further, the design of the automatic train supervision (ATS) sub-system should be such that the ATS core functions and the ATS non-core functions are physically and logically separable.

NITI Aayog has sanctioned a project for the indigenous development of CBTC. If the project is successful, then the implementation and upgradation cost will be significantly reduced for transit authorities.

DMRC’s initiative: Delhi Metro has been in operation since 2002 and hence, some sections need refurbishment. In addition, the authority is also facing problem of interoperability, especially when the extension of an existing line is planned. DMRC plans to upgrade its signalling system in line with the new policy.

AFC system

The National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) Programme supports the development of one card for all payments, including retail, transit, para-transit, and smart cities. The NCMC will be an EMV-based open-loop bank card, which will integrate transport fare payment through a single-ticketing mechanism for all modes of public transport in the country.

DMRC’s initiative: Delhi Metro has an average daily ridership of more than 3 million passengers and around 12 million passengers use the smartcard. The network deploys around 3,000 AFC gates, which are supplied by Thales, Samsung, and Indra. To support the government’s ‘One Nation One Card’ scheme, DMRC has invited EoIs to upgrade the existing fare collection system to the open-loop system based on the PPP model.

Further, the concept trial of the NCMC card has begun on the Delhi Metro network, in collaboration with the State Bank of India (SBI). MoHUA has developed the NCMC in collaboration with the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).

The way forward

DMRC has deployed the country’s first driverless metro train. As a precaution for the unattended train operation (UTO) mode, the authority has deployed platform screen doors (PSDs) to barricade the tracks and avoid hazards. Around 4,000 PSDs are deployed on the three lines of Delhi Metro (Lines 7, 8, and Airport Express). Further, the authority has provided 1,000 PSDs for the Noida–Greater Noida network.  DMRC will deploy PSDs on the busy stations of Delhi Metro (such as Rajiv Chowk and Kashmiri Gate) as well as Mumbai Metro Lines 2 and 7.

In addition, the authority plans to deploy digitalised means for the asset management and condition monitoring of the network as well as for analysing passengers’ preferences through big data management for improving services.