Progress and plans for city metro systems in India
03 Nov 2016

TunnelTalk reporting

India (Table 1), like China before it (Table 2), is on the brink of mass public metro rail investment and construction.

Table 1. Current plans and operating metro systems in major cities of India
City System Start of Operations Underground alignments
Systems in service
Kolkata Kolkata Metro October 1984 Yes
Delhi Delhi Metro December 2002 Yes
Bangalore Namma Metro October 2011 Yes
Gurgaon Rapid MetroRail Gurgaon November 2013 No
Mumbai Mumbai Metro June 2014 No
Jaipur Jaipur Metro June 2015 No
Chennai Chennai Metro June 2015 Yes
Systems in construction
Lucknow Lucknow Metro March 2017 Yes
Kochie Kochi Metro April 2017 TBC
Nagpur Nagpur Metro November 2017 TBC
Noida Noida Metro December 2017 Yes
Navi Mumbai Navi Mumbai Metro March 2018 Yes
Hyderabad Hyderabad Metro December 2018 Yes
Ahmedabad & Gandhinagar Metro-Link Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad 2020 No
Kanpur Kanpur Metro 2021 No
Systems in planning
Meerut Meerutr Metro 2021 No
Patna Patna Metro 2021 No
Vijayawada Vijayawada Metro 2018 No
Thiruvananthapuram Thiruvananthapuram Light Metro 2027 No
Visakhapatnam Visakhapatnam Metro
(Vizag Metro)
Kozhikode Kozhikode Light Metro 2025 No
Guwahati Guwahati Metro 2021 No
Bhopalr Bhopal Metro 2024 No
Indore Indore Metro 2025 TBC
National Capital Region National Capital Region Metro 2025 Yes
Chandigarh Tricity Chandigarh Metro 2022 No
Agra Agra Metro 2028 No
Varanasi Varanasi Metro No
Allahabad Allahabad Metro No
Pune Pune Metro 2021 Yes
Gwalior Gwalior Metro 2021 No
Bhubaneswar & Cuttack Bhubaneswar Metro No
Dehradun - Rishikesh - Haridwar Dehradun Metro TBC
Systems proposed but not yet in planning
Surat Surat Metro TBC
Nasik Greater Nasik Metro TBC
Srinagar Srinagar Metro TBC
Mumbai Western railway elevated corridor No

According to research by TunnelTalk, the Central Government has adopted a policy to support plans for metro rail systems for Indian cities of more than 20 lakhs or 2 million in population. A population census in 2011, identified 19 cities in India with more than 2 million residents. Of these metro projects are under different stages of implementation in eight – Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Pune and Ahmedabad. Of these, four have underground alignments either in service or planned for under the dense city centres or to meet topographical needs.

Kolkata was the first city in the country to develop a metro system, opening its first operating system in 1984 and with an hard-won underground section of bored and cut-and-cover construction supported by tunnelling expertise from Hungary. At present the city is constructing a 14.67km east-west extension of the system with an bored tunnels taking the alignment under the Hooghly River to connect Howrah Maidan station on the west bank to Central Station on the east.

Development of the metro system was based initially on the Kolkata model but the construction authority, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), soon found its own way forward. Under initial Managing Director Dr Sreedharan, DMRC embarked on an ambitious metro development programme and from the first section of underground mined and TBM-driven alignment in the early 2000s, the city now has a system wide network of more than 213km and with long lengths underground. More than a third, or 50km, of the current 159km Phase III programme is underground with the running tunnels excavated with 35 TBMs procured from different manufacturers.

Bangalore and Chennai followed with underground sections on their initial routes and, while it has recently approved construction of its seafront second metro line, Mumbai is yet to adopt an underground alignment for metro services. Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad have also preparing for metro construction with surface and elevated guideways and with plans in Pune being considered for an underground section through the hills. Bangalore recently completed the highly challenged TBM tunnelling for the initial two lines of Phase 1 and is progressing plans for a 72km Phase II that includes further lengths of underground alignment.

Table 2. Metro cities of China with start of operation
City Start of Operations City Start of Operations
Beijing 1971 Nanjing 2005
Changsha 2014 Nanning 2016
Chengdu 2010 Ningbo 2014
Chongqing 2005 Qingdao 2015
Dalian 2003 Shanghai 1993
Dongguan 2016 Shenyang 2010
Foshan 2010 Shenzhen 2004
Fuzhou 2016 Suzhou 2012
Guangzhou 1997 Tianjin 1984
Harbin 2013 Wuhan 2004
Hangzhou 2012 Wuxi 2014
Hong Kong SAR 1979 Xi’an 2011
Kunmming 2012 Zhengzhou 2013
Nanchang 2015    

Another 11 cities have advanced plans for beinging construction of modern public transport metro rail systems (Table 1). Reported also today on TunnelTalk, Lucknow joins the list of cities to apply TBMs for develop of sections of its initial Phase 1A metro system. With bored tunnels taking alignments under city centres and the most congested areas, they link, more commonly, cut-and-cover stations. Mined stations in different geological and environmental conditions are often considered too ambitious and cut-and-cover stations boxes provide logisitics for launch and support of TBM running tunnel drives. Plans for many of these systems are based on the Delhi Metro experience with detailed project reports being prepared with the assistance of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

Development of city metro systems is under the central legislative Ministry of Urban Development. During his tenure as Urban Development Minister, from 2011 to 2014, Kamal Nath emphasised the need for infrastructure development in India and was instrumental in changing legislative regulations to ease barriers on import of specialist equipment, for example, and expanding access to different project funding vehicles. In 2010, India was the selected the partner country partner at the premier bauma Munich international construction equipment trade fair in Germany. Minister Nath attended as a guest and keynote speaker, and advocated his support of PPP (private public partnership) models for securing investment funding and for expediting the legal process for advancing projects into construction. He referenced the success of PPP models used to fund metro transit projects in Mumbai and Hyderabad. Other cities have selected to develop their systems using the DMRC model of being fully funded by contributions from the Centre and State Governments.

Regardless the funding model, it was Nath who said in 2011: "If State Governments come with the proposal for metro rail in cities of 2 million-plus population, the Ministry is ready to consider requests for supporting the plans with national funding."

Central Government support of national infrastructure has continued under current Minister of Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu who took over from Minister Nath in May 2014 as part of Prime Minister Modi’s administration. Central Government support of what is set to be rapid development of vital national infrastructure, not only for public transit metro systems, but also for energy and road and rail interconnectivity across the country, will draw eager visitors to the bauma CONEXPO construction equipment trade show that is to be held at the Gurgaon/Delhi showgrounds during 12-15 December 2016.


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