The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is all set to begin the trial run of Mumbai Metro Line-2, which will connect the two western suburbs i.e. Andheri and Dahisar, from May 26.
The planning authority has set a target to start the commercial operations on the first 20 km of this route by October and the remaining 17 km by December end. On May 18, Mumbai recorded 953 new covid cases, lowest since March.
The work on the line resumed in October 2020 post lockdown. “We brought in the workers from different part of the country,” says MMRDA commissioner R.A. Rajeev. “We are taking utmost care of their safety and following all Covid protocol.”
The 20 km long section of the metro, line 2A, will connect D.N. Nagar (Andheri) to Dahisar, the last suburb of Mumbai on the west side. The 17 km long section, line 7, will bring Andheri (east) closer to Dahisar (east).
Initially, each metro will have six driverless coaches with a passenger capacity of 380 per coach. The stations on these routes, though, have been constructed to accommodate eight coach trains. Once in operation, these Metro lines will reduce the traffic congestion by 26 per cent. The MMRDA hopes that 25 per cent motorists who travel on the Western Express Highway, as well as 12 per cent passengers of local trains will switch to the Metro.
The work for the metro lines 2A and 7 began in 2016. There were seven bidders for these projects. The Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), headquartered in Bengaluru, won the bid. The work order was issued in November 2018 and the lines were supposed to be operational by December 2020.
However, the lockdown imposed from March to October last year because of the pandemic, delayed work. According to Rajeev, the delay has not resulted in cost escalation. “The total cost of these projects is Rs 12,618 crore. We have spent Rs 6,000 crore so far. In fact, we are going to save at least Rs 1,000 crore by the time the lines are operational.”
He attributes the achievement to better contract management, procurements within limits and a transparent bidding process. “One metro coach for line 3 cost Rs 10 crore. For line 2A and 7, we managed to procure each coach at Rs 8 crore. We are going to save Rs 1,000 crore in just the procurement.”
This is the first metro in Mumbai being built under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. However, cables, traction monitor, wheels, air suspension, interlocking hardware, gates, ticket reader, escalators and the lighting system are being imported from 11 countries—Japan, South Korea, Italy, China, Germany, Czechoslovakia, France, Denmark, Singapore, Spain and Finland.
Procuring stocks have been no easy task since these countries were under lockdown for a long time as well. “We used to conduct online meetings in three different time zones to resolve the transportation hurdles,” says Rajeev. “Once when there was shortage of steel, I personally spoke to Naveen Jindal, chairman of Jindal Steel, so that the supply could be made smoother.”
It was a huge task to coordinate with more than 50 contractors, who completed the civil works. Land acquisition, shifting of power lines and working for only six hours after midnight, when the vehicular traffic is minimum, was also a challenging task. Rajeev said micro-planning helped the MMRDA to overcome these hurdles. “Think about the work and you will get the solution,” said Rajeev, who also worked while isolating at home when he was infected with covid-19 last December.
It was also a challenge to keep the fare affordable. The fare for metro 2A and 7 will be cheaper than metro-1, which connects Versova and Ghatkopar, i.e. Rs 10 for the first 3 km, Rs 20 for 3-12 km and Rs 30 for 12-37 km. The maximum fare will be Rs 30, Rs 10 lower than that of the 22 km long Metro-1. The MMRDA has started the process of taking over the operations of Metro-1 that is currently run by R-Infra. The MMRDA has 24 per cent stake in Metro-1.