Expansion of the metro rail system in India

Nirmal Mathur - 29 September 2016

India is making large investments in the country’s metro rail system, which promises to give a big boost to the stainless steel industry.

About the author

Mr Nirmal Mathur
Nirmal Mathur is Director at Jindal Stainless and the founder of the Indian Stainless Steel Development Association (ISSDA) of which he was President until 2016. He is a regular contributor to the Stainless Steel World magazine and Stainless Steel World News.

The very first rapid transit system in India was the Kolkata Metro which started operations in 1984 on a relatively small scale. Eighteen years later, in 2002, the first modern metro rail system begun its operations in the national capital, Delhi. For all the coaches of this metro system, stainless steel was unanimously selected as the material of choice on account of its unmatched sterling properties. Also most of the equipment and fittings inside the coaches were made of stainless steel. This rail metro system soon became the lifeline for the commuters in Delhi, with a daily ridership of more than 3.3 million. The roaring success of the Delhi Metro, with its shining stainless steel coaches, led to a huge expansion of the metro rail system throughout the country. In August 2014, the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, announced that the Union Government would provide financial assistance for the implementation of a metro rail system to all Indian cities with a population of more than one million. In May 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the Union Urban Development Ministry’s proposal to implement metro rail systems in nearly 50 cities in the country. The majority of the planned projects are intended to be implemented through special purpose vehicles, which will be established as equal-partnership joint ventures between the Union and respective State Government.

Today there are eight operational metro systems in India, with more than 316 km of operational metro lines. In nearly all metro projects, stainless steel is the material of construction for lightweight coaches.

The primary manufacturers of stainless steel coaches for metro rails in India are Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), Bombardier and Alstom, all with fully equipped manufacturing facilities. BEML manufactures rolling stock also in consortium with Hyundai Mitsubishi Rotem. So far the company has built stainless steel coaches for metro systems in cities such as Delhi, Bangalore, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Kolkata. Bombardier, with its factory in the state of Gujarat, supplied coaches for the Delhi Metro, while Alstom, with its factory in the state of Andhra Pradesh, will be supplying coaches for metro projects in the cities of Chennai, Kochi and Lucknow.

The following are some of the recently completed, ongoing and planned metro projects in India:

In addition to the growth of stainless steel usage in coaches for these massive metro expansion projects, there is an ever-growing usage of stainless steel in metro station infrastructure on account of its maintenance-free service life. Metro stations in Delhi have used stainless steels in numerous applications such as claddings, hand rails, ticket vending machines, canopies, bicycle stands, barriers, chairs and benches, manholes, elevators and signage. All other metro projects in India have also adopted stainless steel as a preferred material for their station infrastructure. This overall expansion in metro projects in India is a good sign of growth for the stainless steel industry across the globe.

Photo: Micky lakshya at English Wikipedia

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