An exclusive interview with Sushil Kumar, Managing Director, UP Metro Rail Corporation

Vinod Shah Posted on: 2023-05-08 14:04:00 Viewer: 4,241 Comments: 0 Country: India City: Lucknow

An exclusive interview with Sushil Kumar, Managing Director, UP Metro Rail Corporation

Sushil Kumar, a senior technocrate and an officer of 1991-batch Indian Railways Service of Electrical Engineers (IRSEE), is presently serving Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation Limited (UPMRC) as Managing Director. Under his commendable leadership, UPMRC is implementing sustainable mass rapid transit systems in Lucknow, Kanpur and Agra cities.

He has an extensive experience in project management, design specification, technical support, operation and maintenance in Indian Railways and Urban Transit & Metros for Rolling Stock/Trains, Signalling, Traction Power System, and Telecommunication including Train Operation.  He has a vast knowledge of Renewable Energy Sector & Power Sector. He has the exposure of International Metro projects across the globe including Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris, Vienna etc.

In a recent interaction with Urban Transport News, Shri Kumar shares updates on ongoing metro rail projects in Uttar Pradesh and his views on how is UPMRC changing lives of people with its innovative and sustainable approach. 

Kindly share the recent progress of remaining sections of Kanpur Metro Rail Project. How these sections are more significant to city dwellers? 

In order to strengthen the public transport system of Kanpur, the second most densely populated city of Uttar Pradesh, on May 2019, the Government approved the Kanpur Metro Rail Project. Under this Project, two metro corridors have been proposed in the city. The length of Corridor-1 from IIT-Kanpur to Naubasta is 23.78 km and the length of Corridor-2 from Chandrashekhar Azad Agricultural University to Barra-8 is 8.60 km. Commercial services were inaugurated on around 9 km long Priority section from IIT Kanpur to Motijheel under Corridor-1 by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on December 28, 2021. The construction work on all the other three balance sections of Corridor-1 namely, the Chunniganj-Nayaganj underground section, Kanpur Central-Transport Nagar underground section & Baradevi-Naubasta elevated section is currently progressing at a fast pace.

Kanpur Metro commenced the civil construction work at Chunniganj- Nayaganj underground section by lowering of first D- wall at Naveen Market Underground Station and commencing the casting work of pre-cast structures for this Underground Section in the HBTU casting yard, on 11th October 2021. Tunnelling work for this 4 km long underground section between Chunniganj-Nayaganj under Corridor-1 is currently underway with the help of 'Nana' and 'Tatya' Tunnel Boring Machines. Both these machines have already completed the construction work of the 1005-meter tunnel between Bada Chauraha to Nayaganj. These machines have been now relaunched from the launching shaft at Chunniganj to construct a 1264-meter-long tunnel to Bada Chauraha via Naveen Market.

The construction work of the second 3 km long underground section between Kanpur Central – Transport Nagar under Corridor -1 is also progressing at a fast pace. The first D-wall for the Jhakarkatti Metro station on this section was lowered on June 10, 2022. On October 17, 2022, the casting of the roof slab at this station had also begun. The tunnel construction work at this section with the help of TBMs may also commence soon in the coming months as the construction work reaches its next stage. The Civil construction work on the 5.42 km long fully elevated Baradevi-Naubasta section of Corridor -1 commenced on August 8, 2022. The first Pier Cap erection was completed in this section on December 27, 2022. U-girder erection has also commenced by erecting the first girder at Kidwai Nagar on January 21, 2023. A total of 346 U-girders are to be erected under this 5 km-long elevated section.

Apart from these, the tender for underground construction work of the 2nd corridor (CSA to Barra-8) has also been released in February this year. The tender process for the elevated section of this corridor is also currently in its final stage and will be released in the coming days, soon after which the construction work on 2nd corridor is likely to begin. 

  • Corridor 1 (IIT Kanpur - Naubasta): 23.8 km with 21 stations
  • Corridor 2 (Agriculture University - Barra 8): 8.6 km with 8 stations

Kanpur Metro is planned in such a way that it connects the residential areas, schools, hospitals, colleges, universities and businesses operating in an array of segments. The completion of both corridors will decongest the areas witnessing traffic congestion and will save the time and money of the commuters. This smart mobility system will also provide relief from the increasing carbon footprint and will also play an important role in changing the economic scenario of the city. The operations of the metro services will not only make the lives of the people comfortable but also change the way they commute.

What are the salient features of recently launched GoSmart NCMC Card for Kanpur Metro commuters? How many commuters become member of GoSmart Card so far?

Kanpur Metro’s NCMC-GoSmart was recently launched on April 4, 2023, by Shri Durga Shankar Mishra, Chief Secretary, GoUP. This facility was handed over to the commuters to make their Metro travel even smarter. Now commuters/users can not only avail 10% discount on every Metro journey but they can also use this indigenous RuPay card at the bus, parking & retail facilities where the National Common Mobility Card is supported. Besides, users can also avail of discounts on purchases from the selected stores in the city.

Kanpur Metro is the first Metro service to launch an NCMC card in Uttar Pradesh. The main benefit of this card is that it is an inter-operable transport card i.e. this card can also be used for other metros, buses, parking and retail services of the country which comply with NCMC. With the NCMC card, travellers can travel across the country with ease. This is also paving the way for seamless movement along with saving time and energy during the journey.

The main benefits of GoSmart NCMC card is as under:-

 Main Benefits of National Common Mobility Card (NCMC): 

  •  Up to 10% discount on every journey at Metro's GoSmart and Bank's NCMC, Debit/Credit cards
  • Will be able to be used in Metro, buses, parking, and retail services that accept NCMC
  • No need to stand in line to travel, commuters can use their debit/credit card as a smart card
  • No need to buy a separate ticket while travelling with NCMC cards issued by 23 banks or other Metros
  • Facility to buy QR tickets for metro travel with an NCMC card

NCMC cards are getting a very good response from the people of Kanpur who have remained our biggest support from the beginning. With the NCMC card, metro travel will now be easier and more affordable. The launch of the NCMC card is a big step forward. This scheme is part of ‘Make in India’ campaign. Kanpur Metro was already providing Metro tickets through full digital payment mode with debit cards, credit cards and UPI from its Ticket counters and Ticket Vending Machines. Kanpur Metro also has facility to use smartphone as Metro Ticket by generating QR code ticket by Kanpur Metro App. With state-of-the-art infrastructure, the Kanpur metro offers comfortable and world-class services to the people of Kanpur. It is a safe, convenient, fast and reliable means of public transport requisite for the second most densely populated city of Uttar Pradesh with a total population of around 40 lakhs and people have shown immense faith in it. 

Kindly highlight some major challenges you facing while executing construction in underground sections of Kanpur Metro Rail Project. What is the current status of tunneling work in these sections?

As stated earlier, the tunnel construction work at both the underground sections (Chunniganj-Nayaganj & Kanpur Central-Transport Nagar) under the first corridor of the Kanpur Metro Rail Project (IIT-Kanpur to Naubasta) is currently moving in full swing.The first Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) of the Kanpur Metro Project the TBM ‘Nana’ was named after the great freedom fighter Nana SahebPeshwa was launched from the launching shaft constructed at Bada Chauraha to construct approx a 1km long tunnel up to Nayaganj on July 4, 2022, under Chunniganj-Nayaganj underground section. In the following month of August, another TBM named after another great martyr ‘Tatya’ was also launched under the said section for tunnel construction. On December 6, 2022, Kanpur Metro achieved its first tunnel breakthrough. The TBM ‘Nana’ reached Nayaganj Metro Station by constructing approx a 1km long ‘downline’ tunnel after being launched from the Bada Chauraha Metro Station in July 2022. ‘Tatya’ also achieved its breakthrough on January 16, 2023, after which both machines were retrieved from Nayaganj to relaunch them from the launching shaft at Chunniganj to construct a 1264-meter-long tunnel to Bada Chauraha via Naveen Market Metro station.

Recently, on 27th March 2023, the 'Tatya' Tunnel Boring Machine was relaunched for ‘downline’ tunnel construction from the launching shaft built at Chunniganj underground station. Before that, 'Nana' TBM was also relaunched earlier in the first week of March for the construction of a tunnel on the 'upline'. From the day of launch both these machines have made great progress and so far ‘Nana’ has already completed the tunnelling work of 140 meters while ‘Tatya’ has also completed the tunnel construction of 78 meters.

The important feature of the tunnel construction in this stretch is that to save time, both these TBMs will not be retrieved after arriving at Naveen Market underground station, instead, they will be transported from one end to the other inside the 215-meter long station using a ‘Dragging’ method. This will save the extra time which otherwise would have been consumed in the retrieval and relaunch of both the TBMs. For this, the construction of the platform level will be completed before TBM reaches Naveen Market Underground Metro Station. After dragging the TBMs to the other end of Naveen Market Underground Metro station, the machine will continue tunnelling work to reach Bada Chauraha Metro station from where it will be retrieved from the retrieving shaft. 

Another important feature of the underground Metro stations of this section is that they are being constructed using a 'top-down' method i.e. the construction process is being done from top to bottom. Under the top-down method firstly, the Roof Slab of the station is constructed, followed by the construction of the concourse level and then the platform level.

This 'top-down' method is being adopted to minimize the impact on traffic due to the ongoing work at the under-construction stations as the barricading on the road will be reduced after the construction of the first floor starting from the road level. The construction work of the rest of the levels of the station under the road will continue and the movement of vehicles on the road will also continue smoothly.

The route between Chunniganj and Nayaganj is one of the busiest routes in the city. With the help of these state-of-the-art TBMs, Kanpur Metro team has been able to construct underground tunnels passing through the heart of the city with complete safety without affecting the traffic on the roads. Passing under one of the most densely populated areas of the city, which also had many old buildings, the machine is accomplishing the challenging task with complete safety which is a big achievement.

When the remaining sections/corridors of Kanpur Metro are expected to open to the public? Is there any delay expected to complete this project?

After achieving the milestone of inaugurating commuter services on the Priority section before the scheduled time, the next target of Kanpur Metro is to complete the construction work on the balance section of both corridors before the stipulated time i.e. by the end of the year 2024. With the starting of commuter services on the entire section, people of Kanpur will be able to reach any part of the city by their own Metro. With the onset of Metro services on Balance sections people will be able to travel comfortably by a world-class Mass Rapid Transit System saving both time and money. UPMRC, with a strong conviction to provide a one-stop mobility solution, is committed towards the goal of balanced and sustainable development of the city and state.

What is the current status of priority section of Agra Metro Rail Project? When this section is exactly slotted to open to the public?

The priority section of the first corridor of Agra Metro Rail Project is progressing at a fast pace. It comprises of 6 stations - 3 elevated and 3 underground and stretches upto 6 kms in length. The finishing works are on for 3 kms elevated stations - Taj East Gate, Basai and Fatehabad Road are already at a completion stage. 

Similarly, the 3 underground stations namely - Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Jama Masjid are also being constructed at a rapid pace and underground tunnel work that was inaugurated by Hon’ble CM of UP Shri Yogi Adityanath in February is also being completed at a fast pace. UPMRC achieved the first TBM breakthrough at Agra Fort Metro Station in a record 77 days since the launch of TBM.

When will the construction work on remaining sections/corridors of Agra Metro Rail Project commenced?

While The construction work on the priority section of first corridor is already being done at a fast pace, the civil construction work for balance section - comprising 4 underground stations is already underway. 

Very soon, the tendering process for the last 3 elevated stations (ISBT, Guru Ka Taal and Sikandara) on the first corridor will also be complete and the civil works will begin.

The tender for corridor 2 running from Agra Cantt to Kalindi Vihar has already been floated and civil works will begin very soon.

Is there any financial/funding hurdles in executing these projects? How are you utilizing the funds being received from the Governments as well as external funding agencies?

At the moment, the Agra Metro Rail Project is progressing at a fast pace without any financial hurdles. We are partially being funded by an external agency (European Investment Bank) and partly by the Govt. of India and Government of Uttar Pradesh. This set up ensures smooth disbursal of funds and we are fully committed to complete this project in a cost effective, time bound manner. We are trying to complete this project 6 months ahead of its set schedule and as per day cost of the project is an added expenditure and we want to minimise any added cost in project completion.

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