Exclusive Interview with Shri Kumar Keshav, CEO, DB RRTS Operations India Pvt Ltd.

Shri Kumar Keshav is name known for ushering in the revolution in Metro Rail in Uttar Pradesh. Under his able leadership, metro service started in the capital city Lucknow and the industrial city Kanpur in a record time. Shri Kumar Keshav, the legend who brought in revolutionary changes in The Mass Rapid Transit System, is known for excellence in work, able strategist, decisiveness, and dedication.

Belonging to the batch of 1982 of Indian Railway Service of Engineers, Shri Kumar Keshav received his early education in Bareilly. Thereafter, he completed B.Tech from IIT Roorkee and M.Tech with a Gold Medal from IIT Kanpur. With Stellar academic credentials, Kumar Keshav strode ahead in his career.

Interview Insights:

Rail Analysis: What are your plans after eight beautiful years of serving the people of Uttar Pradesh with the gift of Lucknow and Kanpur metro and the implementation of the Agra Metro Project?

Shri Kumar Keshav: I joined the Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation Limited as the Managing Director in August 2014 and began operations with a team of five people in a small office. This project was a dream come true for the people of Lucknow and the support of the government was crucial to its success. Our hard work has made this dream a reality today. We successfully completed the priority corridor of the Lucknow Metro in just two years and two months, which is a record time, and the commercial run of the entire North-South corridor of Phase 1-A project was completed in less than four and a half years, 36 days ahead of the planned schedule. The Lucknow Metro’s record-breaking completion of the underground CCS Airport Metro Station in just 19 months and 10 days earned it recognition in the Limca Books of Records.

The Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation was initially started as the Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation Limited for the construction of its first corridor between CCS Airport and Munshipuliya. It was later reconstituted as the Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation Limited to implement metro rail projects in various cities in Uttar Pradesh through a single Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). This development led to the fastest execution of metros in Uttar Pradesh and the Kanpur Metro became the fastest metro project ever executed in the country. The Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation has become a symbol of achievement with numerous milestones to its credit. We also planned and executed the majority of the priority corridor of the Agra Metro, which consists of two corridors and beautifully planned stations connecting all the historical sites in Agra, including a station at the Taj Mahal. The priority corridor of the Agra Metro is expected to be operational by 2024.

“In July 2022, I became the CEO of the DB RRTS, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG, the National Railway Company of Germany. Deutsche Bahn was selected as the lowest bidder on May 6th, 2022, for the comprehensive Operation and Maintenance of the 82 Km long Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut RRTS corridor for a period of 12 years. The agreement was signed on July 1st, 2022, and the contract was awarded to DB RRTS Operations India Private Limited on July 27th, 2022. DB’s engagement as an operator has paved the way for the transfer of knowledge, best international practices, and managerial services from around the world to the Indian metro and rail O&M industry. Following the award of the contract, we have so far appointed 330 employees and set up new offices one each in Delhi and Ghaziabad. ”

DB RRTS will be responsible for the operation of the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut RRTS project, which will connect the cities of Delhi, Ghaziabad, and Meerut over 82 Kilometers, with 25 stations and two depots. The twelve-year contract is worth over a hundred million.

DB RRTS will operate 40 trains on the Delhi-Meerut RRTS corridor and will also maintain the rail infrastructure. Once fully operational, the network is expected to carry more than 0.8 million passengers daily.We are thrilled to have the opportunity to operate the Delhi-Meerut RRTS corridor and to contribute to the Indo-German partnership for a green urban mobility experience through DB’s tech-driven operations and predictive maintenance, providing passengers with comfortable and safe commutes.

This partnership will bring a paradigm shift to the O&M of rail-based transit in India and open new opportunities for DB. I believe that the RRTS, a flagship project of the Honorable Prime Minister of India, will usher in a new chapter for the rail-based transport system in our country.



Rail Analysis: What is your opinion on the future of railway and metro’s infrastructure in India by 2030?

Shri Kumar Keshav: The future of railway and metro infrastructure in India looks promising by 2030. With the government’s focus on sustainable transport, the Indian Railways is undergoing a transformation and implementing new technologies. The growing population and urbanization pose a challenge for the transportation sector, but the active involvement of global rail companies and partnerships with countries like Germany offer potential solutions.

The Green Urban Mobility Partnership with Germany will bring in technological advancements and improve sustainable urban mobility in India. Companies like Deutsche Bahn and Alstom are also working towards transferring innovative solutions to India. Thus, I believe that rail will play a significant role in India’s sustainable development and address the issues of carbon footprint in the future.



Rail Analysis: What has been your experience with Rail Analysis Magazine, in terms of your last interviews and insights? Any suggestions you would like to provide?

Shri Kumar Keshav: The Rail Analysis Magazine is a highly professional publication that focuses on providing comprehensive coverage of railway projects across India and abroad. The magazine takes a very sincere approach towards documenting and describing these projects in a manner that is easy for the reader to understand. This is made possible due to the expertise of the team behind the publication, who are well-versed in various aspects of the publishing industry including sales, composition, photography, and design.The magazine has been a valuable partner and source of information for its readers and has established a strong reputation in various markets around the world.

The quality of the content is evident in the consistent presence that Rail Analysis Magazine maintains in the railway industry, and its ability to highlight important projects and developments. The magazine has been a key player in spreading awareness and providing up-to-date information to its readers, making it an indispensable resource for anyone interested in the railway industry.



Rail Analysis: As a successful and experienced technocrat what would be your message to young minds willing to join Metro and Rail Industry? Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

“As the Managing Director of Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation and the CEO of DB Operations India Private Limited, I have a strong passion for the youth of India. With over 160 million people between the ages of 20-24, this country is brimming with potential for progress and innovation.”

Shri Kumar Keshav: In line with this vision, I have implemented initiatives that prioritize the hiring of fresh graduates for operational positions in both organizations. Our commitment to diversity is reflected in the fact that nearly 30% of our train operators and station controllers are women, who bring a sense of resilience and confidence to their roles.

To support the growth and development of our young employees, we have implemented comprehensive training programs. Starting with a foundation course, trainees receive hands-on practical training on various technical aspects of the railway operations, including traction, maintenance, train signaling, station management, and rolling stock.

This training culminates with hands-on experience on train simulators, giving our trainees a real feel of driving a RRTS train.RRTS and Metros serve different purposes in India, with RRTS connecting suburbs and urban centers with semi-high-speed rail, while metros are designed to support urban transportation.

Both systems have the capacity to reduce road congestion, with RRTS operating at speeds of 160 kmph and Metros at 80 kmph. However, RRTS holds a significant advantage in terms of time, as it can cover 100 km in just 1 hour, compared to the 3 hours it takes for the metro to cover the same distance.



Rail Analysis: Any key recommendations?

Shri Kumar Keshav: With Indian cities growing at a fast pace, metro systems are bound to become an important constituent of the transport mix in all urban centres. Metro projects are capital-intensive as they require everything – land, civil structures, signalling systems and rolling stock.

However, the capital cost of any metro project is only 40 percent of its total life cycle cost, while 60 percent of the life cycle cost comes from operations, maintenance, asset management, etc. Given that focus is laid primarily on the design and execution of a project, costs related to operations and maintenance are not accounted for. This brings into question the financial sustainability and profitability of such projects.

It is therefore imperative that to avoid issues pertaining to financial sustainability, the entire vision and philosophy of operations and maintenance is also planned at the design phase itself. While planning a metro rail project, components such as last-mile connectivity, passenger convenience, traffic integration, asset management and predictive maintenance should be properly planned. To ensure the profitability of a metro project, it is essential that these urban mass transit systems are planned as transport models as well as business models. Another requirement in today’s time is the formulation of a single entity for all public transport in a city. To that end, different modes of public transport should work and function in unison and via integration, rather than competing against one another. Meanwhile, in order to be cost-effective, it is essential that operational and technological redundancies are optimised.

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