UPMRC is known for timely execution of its projects, be it the commissioning of Lucknow Metro Phase – I in record time or the brisk pace of work witnessed for Kanpur Metro despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when all the rest of the metro networks are reporting their project work progressing at snail’s pace and delays of 3 to 6 months in completion deadline, UPMRC is one such organization which has been talking about completing the project on time. Our Editior Mrs. Suman Chopra recently interviewed Shri Kumar Keshav, Managing Director of UPMRC and took his views on wide range of subject on Preparedness for Resumption of Lucknow Metro Services, progress of Kanpur and Agra Metro. Excerpts.
Suman Chopra: With Metro Services Suspended Across India due to Pandemic and fear of Infection Surge due to public transport usage. How well Lucknow Metro is prepared to restart the commuter services.
Kumar Keshav: The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented time. Nevertheless, the crisis has not shaken our morale and Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation (UPMRC) is steadfastly committed to resuming smooth and hassle-free operations, albeit with precautions and safety measures. ‘Adopt Metro with Social Distancing’ is the mantra that will continue to inspire us in the post-COVID scenario. UPMRC has revamped the operational framework to adhere to the highest standards of hygiene amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and make commuting a safe, reliable, convenient and eco-friendly experience.
Suman Chopra: Some surveys have indicated that public may not use metros for commuting even if resumed, due to fears of contracting infection. How do you plan to encourage public and boost their confidence for using Metro Services?
Kumar Keshav: I would like to bring your attention to the fact that Lucknow Metro is the safest mode of public transport given the strict adherence to the preventive measures of COVID-19. There’s due compliance of social distancing, provision of sanitizers, handwash, regular sanitization of not just the station premises but also inside trains, special markings all around to ensure no two people sit/stand too close to each other etc., unlike any other public transport. In fact, with the kind of arrangements that have been done to ensure safety and hygiene, I feel people would be more at ease and doubt-free when opting for metro as a public transport. It gives me immense pleasure to tell you that Lucknow Metro is the first metro in India to have started token sanitization after every journey. Other measures undertaken by us include establishment of health check-up desks at the entrance gates of metro stations (where commuter shall be checked for thermal scanning, green status of Aarogya Setu App, face mask and hand sanitisation), Signage on floors, walls, lifts, escalators, staircase, TOM, TVM, security check etc. to ensure social distancing, cross marks on alternate seats inside trains, touch free security check, frequent
disinfection of common surface touch-points such as Ticket Counters, Ticket Vending Machines, Entry-Exit-AFC gates, handrails of escalators, lift buttons etc.
Lucknow Metro stations shall be sanitized every 4-5 hours and metro trains twice a day. The operational staff, including Station Controllers (SCs), Customer Care Assistants (CRAs) & security personnel will wear masks and gloves while dealing with commuters.
To help people get an insight of our preparedness, we are leveraging the power of social media to disseminate correct and timely information to the public. These measures, along with those of cleanliness and sanitization, will boost the public confidence.
Suman Chopra: Some City Development Authorities are planning to adopt new technologies like ‘Common Mobility Phone App’ for ‘Contactless Ticketing’ across the various modes of public transport including metro, buses, auto and taxies. What are your views about the initiative with regards to boosting public confidence?
Kumar Keshav: Contactless travel is a great enabler to reduce the transmission risk of COVID-19 beyond doubt. In fact, Lucknow Metro itself has the facility of ‘Absolute Contactless Travel’ with the usage of Lucknow Metro’s GoSmart Cards. Passengers using GoSmart card enjoy a safer travel experience without the need to exchange currency for tokens. Not just this, GoSmart Cards can be recharged online and the card holder can use it to purchase tokens for co-passengers as well.
Suman Chopra: Metro Projects across the Nation are being delayed due to slow pace of work due to migrant labour exodus and supply constraints. However, the work for Kanpur Metro seems to progressing well unaffected by any such hurdle. What did UPMRC did right to regain the pace of work quickly after lockdown and what are the chances of Kanpur Metro meeting the project completion deadline.
Kumar Keshav: Yes, the civil construction work of Kanpur Metro’s ‘Priority Corridor’ from ‘IIT to Motijheel’ is being executed with considerable pace in the post-lockdown period. All the credit goes to the strategic planning of UPMRC as the casting procedure had already started in the closed premises of Casting Yard & Polytechnic Depot with limited workforce on 29th April, 2020. After rearrangement of set up, UPMRC resumed civil work on the corridor from 15th May, 2020.
The initial crisis of labour shortage was overcome by assuring provision of adequate medical care & accommodation at labour colony (at construction site). This proved to be decisive in winning the confidence of labour workforce which crossed the 1000 mark in just 50 days of commencement of civil work.
Another milestone achievement was when UPMRC awarded a single contract for the procurement of 39 Rolling Stock & Signalling Systems to the consortium of M/s Bombardier Transport India Pvt. Ltd. & M/s Bombardier Transportation GmbH. This single contract will again help in achieving our targets well within time.
UPMRC is committed to the goal of completing the ‘Priority Section’ of Kanpur Metro from ‘IIT to Moti Jheel’ by December 2021 and start operations of the entire 23.785 km comprising 22 stations from ‘IIT Kanpur to Naubasta’ in 2024.
Suman Chopra: What’s the status of Agra and Varanasi Metro? When do we expect to see start of construction work on ground?
Kumar Keshav: Recently, UPMRC’s Agra Metro project has got the clearance from the Supreme Court of India under which Mass Rapid transit System (MRTS) will be executed for Agra, 3rd largest city of Uttar Pradesh. To maintain the greenery & ecological balance of the landscape, 18230 trees will be planted during the project construction phase.
The Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the Agra Metro project was approved by the cabinet on 28th February, 2019 followed by the laying of foundation stone by Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble PM of India on 8th March, 2019 via video conferencing. Central Empowered Committee (CEC) constituted by the apex court visited the Agra project site & carried out rigorous inspection considering the environmental impact of the project before giving green signal.
The tender for the Rolling Stock & Signalling of the Kanpur & Agra Metro project has already been awarded to M/s Bombardier Transport India Pvt. Ltd. & the process of land acquisition, soil testing & survey of the project site is going on.
Talking about Varanasi Metro, GoUP engaged M/s Rites to prepare Detailed Project Report for rail based MRTS in Varanasi with Varanasi Development Authority as nodal agency & UPMRC as coordinator in January, 2015. The Metro Corridors were finalized after several meetings & presentations followed by submission of final DPR to MoHUA in June, 2016. In February 2018, M/s Rites was engaged through VDA for preparation of Comprehensive Mobility Plan & Alternatives Analysis Report as per Metrolite Policy 2019.
The most viable transport system proposed for the Varanasi consists of Metrolite System with MRTS Corridors in different phases. Under Phase-1 ‘BHU to BHEL’ (16 km long) will be executed followed by 3 other MRTS Corridors in Phase-2&3 ie. ‘BHU to Ramnagar’, ‘Kashi MMH to Sarnath’ & Kashi MMH to Mughal Sarai respectively.
Suman Chopra: Tell us about the unique features of Rolling Stock finalized for ‘Kanpur and Agra Metro’.
Kumar Keshav: UPMRCL has awarded the combined tender for Rolling Stock and Signalling System in order to build and deliver 201 metro cars and an advanced signalling solution for the Agra-Kanpur Metro projects to ‘Consortium of Bombardier Transportation India Private Limited and Bombardier Transportation GmbH’. A total 67 train sets of 3 cars each will be procured for the Agra & Kanpur Metro projects i.e. 39 trains for Kanpur & 28 trains for Agra respectively.
The Rolling Stock of Kanpur and Agra Metro will be of modern design, lightweight made of stainless steel, having 750V DC drive with V.V.V.F control and regenerative braking, equipped with advanced microprocessor based Train Control Management System (TCMS), operating with latest signalling solution of Communication Based Train Control (CBTC), etc.
The Rolling Stock for Kanpur-Agra Metro projects will have a maximum design speed of 90 km/h & operational speed of 80 km/h. Each train will consist of 3 cars with passenger carrying capacity of almost 970 passengers. Trains will have dedicated
space for wheel chairs and will have priority sittings for senior citizens, differently able and women. Trains will be equipped with LED lights to reduce energy consumption with USB charging ports for charging of mobile phones. Energy efficient HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning) units will also be installed for passenger comfort apart from Digital Route Maps for route and station identification. Separate LCD screens will be installed in order to display advertisements and special/emergency messages.
All the cars will be under CCTV surveillance & passenger can also talk directly to train operator in case of any emergency. Each car will be equipped with fire extinguishers for passenger safety. Further, each train will have emergency detrainment door at both the ends for safe evacuation of passengers.