Interview with Kumar Keshav, Managing Director, UPMRC

Vinod Shah Posted on: 2021-04-20 10:54:00 Viewer: 8,650 Comments: 0 Country: India City: Lucknow

Interview with Kumar Keshav, Managing Director, UPMRC

An Indian Railway Service of Engineers (IRSE) officer and a Gold medallist engineer from IIT-Kanpur (M.Tech) and IIT-Roorkee (B.E.), Kumar Keshav took over the charge of Managing Director of Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation (then Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation) on August 18, 2014, and has not taken even a single leave since then. He is known as Metro Man of Uttar Pradesh.

In a recent interaction with Urban Transport News, Keshav has frankly talked about his strategy on developing metro rail projects in the fastest way in Kanpur and Agra in line with the Lucknow Metro Rail project.

Tell our readers about your professional journey in Rail & Metro sectors?

I am an Indian Railway Service of Engineers (IRSE) officer and a gold medallist engineer from IIT-Kanpur (M. Tech.) and IIT-Roorkee (B.E.) took over the charge as UPMRC's Managing Director on August 18, 2014, formerly known as Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation. The whole project work of Lucknow Metro Rail Project so far has been completed under the astute hard work of the whole team in just four and half years. Previously I served as Director (Projects & Planning) at Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), and successfully completed and commissioned various projects in Delhi Metro during my tenure.

Earlier, I had worked as Project Director Rail in Hancock Coal Pty Ltd. in Brisbane, Australia for around two and half years from 2012-2014. There I oversaw all facets of the fastest ever executed metro project in the country. Even contemporary Metro projects in the country have not been able to match up with the speed & quality of deliverance as compared to Lucknow Metro’s strength in project execution. Lucknow Metro is indeed the pride of the city and will gradually evolve to become the lifeline of the city in the long run. The expansion of the metro network within the city will improve mobility, reduce pollution & will aid in the decongestion of traffic to a wide extent.

How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect the ongoing work of various metro rail projects being executed under your leadership?

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented time that has created a global humanitarian & economic crisis. Nevertheless, the crisis has not shaken our morale and Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. (UPMRC) steadfastly resumed the ongoing civil construction work of the ‘Priority Section’ of the Kanpur Metro project, albeit with necessary precautions and mandatory safety measures in line with the guidelines issued by the governments and the local administration.

The initial crisis of labour shortage was overcome by setting up labour accommodation and adequate medical care facilities at the casting yard. This proved to be decisive in winning the confidence of labour workforce which crossed the mark of 1000 in just 50 days of resumption of civil works i.e. from 29th April 2020, which was after getting the relaxation by the government and consequently the local administration of resuming civil works within the closed premises.  

We have been in strict compliance with the advisories issued by the Government health departments to serve the people during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Adequate training was imparted to the front-line operational staff to mitigate the challenges arising due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Likewise, expert training was arranged for all the staff to serve the commuters post Covid-19 lockdown. The whole team of UPMRC was acquainted with new skills to render utmost care in the new scenario.  We had drawn out a detailed ‘Business Continuity Plan’ and relevant ‘Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), especially for this purpose.

What proactive measures are being taken to curb the effect of the Covid 19 pandemic?

Lucknow Metro added another feather to its cap by becoming the first Metro in India to start sanitisation of Metro train coaches with Ultra Violet rays. Taking inspiration from New York Metro’s experiment to sanitise trains with UV lamp rays, Lucknow Metro has become the pioneer of Metro Train Sanitisation in India through UV technology. Giving a boost to the Make in India mission, UPMRC in consultation with an Indian firm that deals in tube lights used in the sanitisation apparatus have developed a UV Sanitisation apparatus that works on Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) disinfection method. The apparatus which has been certified by DRDO in October 2020, sanitizes the entire coach in 7 minutes and as added care, we are sanitizing each coach for 15 minutes.

It is imperative to state that this is the same apparatus that is being used by the medical industry to sanitize Operation Theatres and medical equipment. The best part of this initiative is that it is very economical, i.e. approximately a cost reduction to 1/100th of the total cost of sanitization through manual mode for all the train sets. 

Another unique, proactive measure taken by UPMRC to ensure the complete safety of its passengers during the corona dread was inducing 100 percent fresh air in all the air conditioning units as opposed to the regular method of recirculation of 50 percent of air and inducing only the remaining  50 percent of fresh air. According to the guidelines issued by the government, air conditioning plants could not be used during covid-19 outbreaks because they re-circulate the same air which might be a carrier of viruses and germs. But Lucknow Metro meticulously devised a plan to deal with this situation and decided to induce 100 percent fresh air to ensure no recirculation of air takes place and the health and safety of passengers are not compromised.

We give topmost priority to the safety & security of our commuters which was crucial to our successful performance in the current difficult time. UPMRC is fully geared up to face any challenge which undermines personal health & hygiene in our premises.

Please tell our readers about recent development in the Kanpur Metro project?

Two corridors are proposed in Kanpur, the first one is from IIT to Naubasta and the second one is from Agriculture University to Barra-8. The estimated time for completion of both the corridors is 5 years, while the estimated cost is Rs 11,076.48 crores for both these 32.5 km long corridors.

On November 15, 2019, Yogi Adityanath, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, inaugurated the civil construction for the Kanpur Metro’s Priority Section which has been marked between IIT-Kanpur and Motijheel for a length of about 9km with 9 elevated stations.

Kanpur Metro Project's Priority Corridor is poised to become the fastest built Metro corridor in the country. While following the aim of completing the construction of Priority Corridor within the stipulated timeframe, UPMRC engineers have accomplished several milestones till now and the count is still on.

UPMRC made it possible to erect the very first Pier Cap of the first corridor on 2nd March 2020, which was almost one and half months before as compared to the Lucknow Metro project.

How did you continue the work even in the uncertainty due to the Covid-19 satiations?

After a few months since the commencement of construction works, the COVID-19 pandemic put a hold on all the activities in March, which got stagnant till April. After getting relaxations from the government and the local administration to resume the construction works in the closed premises and with a limited workforce, UPMRC had resumed the activities from 29th April 2020 in the Casting Yard and the Polytechnic Metro Depot. To win the trust of the workforce under those uncertainties, UPMRC set up labour accommodation and medical care facilities at the casting yard.

Besides these initiatives, UPMRC had also started to fetch labourers from the border areas of the state through private buses and in just 50 days counting from 29th April, labour count crossed the mark of 1000.

On 15th May 2020, UPMRC got permission to start the work on the corridor too and the team again achieved the momentum, which is still on an increase.

What new strategy and innovative approach paid off?

For the Priority Corridor, for the first time in India & across other Metro projects, Double T-girders have been used for preparing the base of the concourse levels of the elevated Metro Stations. It helps in considerably reducing construction time and enhances the aesthetic beauty of the civil structure, which is evident from the fact that UPMRC had commenced the erection of double T-girders on July 25, 2020, and within a span of just seven and half months, UPMRC completed the erection of these girders at all the 9 Metro stations, which is a remarkable achievement in itself.

Tell some milestone achieved in the Kanpur Metro project?

Under the Kanpur Metro Project, UPMRC always assures that at a particular time no contractor or sub-contractor has to sit idle and every unit gets the scope and space to work.

This is the core reason that UPMRC has always been able to achieve all its construction targets on or before the tentative deadline. Have a glimpse:

  • Piling for the whole Priority Corridor completed in just 424 days.
  • Till now, under the 9 km long elevated stretch, Piers (Pillars) have been constructed over 8 km.
  • The base for the Metro track has been prepared up to almost 5 km by erecting 366 U-girders out of 622 to date.
  • The civil structure of the terminal station IIT has been completed and the consecutive stations viz. Kalyanpur & SPM are about to be completed soon.
  • Finishing works are also in progress.

Please highlight on Agra Metro project?

Talking about the Agra Metro project, it has 2 corridors connecting all the prime points and important tourist places in Agra. The first corridor is between ‘Sikandara and Taj East Gate’ having a total length of 14 km (approx.) and 13 stations (6 elevated and 7 underground). The second Corridor is between ‘Agra Cantt and KalindiVihar’ comprising a total length of 15.4 Km (approx.) & 14 elevated stations. The total estimated cost of the project is Rs. 8,379.62.

In Corridor-1, the 6 km long ‘Priority Corridor’ has been marked between ‘Taj East Gate & Jama Masjid’ comprising 3 elevated and 3 underground stations. In less than 3 months, the civil construction work of the Agra Metro Project is being carried out at a fast pace and around 230 piles have been placed till now along with the erection of 5 piers (pillars). 

After getting the final nod from the Supreme Court, on December 7, 2020, the construction work of the Agra Metro project was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji via video conferencing in the esteemed presence of Hon’ble Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Ji. Currently, the civil work is being executed along a 3 km long elevated stretch of the Priority Corridor comprising 3 stations namely Taj East Gate, Basai and Fatehabad. The construction work is under progress at the corridor, Casting Yard and the Metro Depot at the 15th Battalion PAC ground. The construction work of Metro Depot has also been planned elaborately and we have targeted to make a world-class metro depot for our Agra Metro project.

We are taking all efforts so that the construction work is carried out smoothly and within the allocated time frame, with accuracy, thoughtfulness and expertise.

Tell our readers about some salient features of Rolling Stock to be used for Kanpur & Agra Metro project?

UPMRC has awarded the combined tender for Rolling Stock and Signalling System in order to build and deliver Metro cars and an advanced signalling solution for the Agra and Kanpur Metro projects to Bombardier. A total of 67 train sets of 3 cars each will be procured for the Agra & Kanpur Metro projects (39 trains for Kanpur and 28 trains for Agra).

Rolling Stocks (Metro Coaches) are being manufactured in Savli, Gujarat in line with the initiatives of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ of the Government of India. Delivery of the first Metro train set in Kanpur is expected by September 2021.

The Rolling Stock of Kanpur and Agra Metro is 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 and Agra Metro projects has a maximum design speed of 90 km/h & an operational speed of 80 km/h. Each train consists of 3 cars with a passenger-carrying capacity of around 970 passengers. Trains have a dedicated space for wheelchairs and have priority seating for senior citizens, differently able and women. Trains are equipped with LED lights to reduce energy consumption with USB charging ports for charging mobile phones.

Energy-efficient HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air-conditioning) units are installed for passenger comfort apart from Digital Route Maps for route and station identification. Separate LCD screens are installed in order to display advertisements and special/emergency messages.

All the cars will be under CCTV surveillance &passenger can also talk directly to the train operator in case of any emergency. Each car will be equipped with fire extinguishers for passenger safety. Further, each train will have an emergency detrainment door at both ends for the safe evacuation of passengers.

What is the current status of the proposed metro rail project in Gorakhpur?

The Metrolite project of Govt. of Uttar Pradesh has been proposed in Gorakhpur, the DPR of which has been approved by UP Government and has been sent to the GoI for approval. Two Metro corridors covering a distance of 28.93 km are proposed under the project. The 15 km long first corridor comprising 14 stations is proposed from Shyam Nagar to Madan Mohan Malviya Engineering College while the second corridor from BRD Medical College to Naushad Chauraha is 13.23 km long and has 12 stations. Both of these corridors will be elevated. The estimated cost of this project is Rs 4,672 crore and the estimated time for completion is 4 years.

Any suggestions for our new Magazine?

I congratulate the entire team of Urban Transport News for working tirelessly to disseminate useful information and updates to the Rail & Metro sectors. I wish for the grand success of your upcoming “Metro Rail Today” Magazine.

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