Exclusive Interview with Shri R.S Khurana, Chairman & Managing Director, MRVC

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Context: To strengthen and improve the suburban services, the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) is undertaking the execution of MUTP projects. In this regard, We reached out to the MRVC Team for an exclusive insight into progress of all ongoing works on the MUTP projects besides other details on their major activities and the Impact of Covid-19.

Interview Insights:

Please share about your journey with the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) till now and how did you get started in this sector? Also, please share memorable moments during this journey so far?

After completing B.Tech in Civil Engineering from BHUIT and M Tech in Structural Engineering from IIT Delhi, I joined Indian Railways Service of Engineers (IRSE) in August 1986. During my tenure of more than 34 years of service, I have worked in various Railway Construction projects of new railway lines, gauge conversion, doubling of railway lines in various capacities. My last few postings before joining MRVC have been Group General Manager (Tech Services), DFCCIL, Delhi, Chief Project Manager, Kanpur (DFCCIL), Chief Engineer (Construction), East Central Railway, Director Civil, RDSO and Chief Project Manager/ Operations IRCON,
 JBRLP, Bangladesh.

I joined MRVC as Director Projects in July 2012 and was involved in streamlining the planning and execution of various MUTP –II projects including World Bank funded trespass control measures, extension of Harbour lines from Andheri to Goregaon, running of 12 car rakes on CSTM-Andheri-Panvel, construction of decks, foot-over-bridges (FOBs), escalators, double exit staircases, etc. at Mumbai suburban stations.

After serving as Director Projects for about 6 years, I joined as Chairman and Managing Director of MRVC in January 2018. In quest to further augment the suburban infrastructure and to enhance the comfort, capacity and safety in Mumbai Suburban Railway System, two major Projects viz MUTP III and MUTP 3A have been proposed by MRVC and sanctioned by Ministry of Railways. These Projects are likely to bring about a quantum change in the suburban travel in terms of capacity and safety and passengers comfort.

Memorable Moments:

There have been many memorable moments – ranging from completion of various works, the Andheri Goregaon line, Harbour line 9 to 12 car works, Borivali Station improvement work, sanction of MUTP 3A but then as one moment passes we start looking for the next one.

 


 

What has been the impact of Covid-19 on the ongoing rail infrastructure projects of MRVC? What are the major challenges being faced by the MRVC’s staff and workers during these days and what are the safety precautions they are following at the project sites?

All construction activities were badly affected due to Covid-19 Pandemic & lockdown. There was disruption in local supply of concrete as well as various construction material due to lockdown. With the relaxation in lockdown in monsoon the issue of migrant labour flared up. Though the labour was well taken care of during the lockdown, going home became an emotional issue because of fear of pandemic and had to be considered in a humane manner.

Detailed SOP for Office & Work sites to be followed on resumption of work at office & Work Sites was worked out and issued in April itself to avoid any spread of Covid-19 either in the office or at work sites during lockdown period.

“Work from Home was been adopted & facilitated for the office staff with Sr Officials attending the office following strict protocols of Thermal scanning at the entry points of the office, regular sanitization, ensuring wearing of masks etc. Field work continued as per available resources duly following the safety Protocols and has now picked up pace.”

Various VC & Web meetings/Webinars have been extensively used to interact within MRVC as well as with Railways, AIIB, Contracting Agencies etc. for monitoring, technical discussions, decision making etc.. These proved to be quite helpful and cost effective during lockdown period.

 


 

Please brief us more about the MUTP 3 & 3A projects including the latest progress for these projects? What are the timelines MRVC have set for completing both these projects?

The basic idea is to strengthen and improve the suburban services utilising the existing right of way of Railways to the maximum. Based on this, additional corridors like Quadrupling of Virar Dahanu, new suburban section between PanvelKarjat, Elevated link between Airoli-Kalwa have been planned under MUTP III and 3rd & 4th line between Kalyan-Badlapur, 5th & 6th line between Borivali-Virar, 4th line between Kalyan-Asangaon have been sanctioned to expand the reach of suburban services.

“A quantum change in signalling system has been envisaged by providing CBTC ( Communication Based Train Control) in Churchgate – Virar on Western Rly, CSMT-Kalyan on Central Rly and CSMT – Panvel on Harbour Line. This change will improve line capacity on the existing routes enabling running of upto 24 trains per hour – way up from existing limitation of 18 trains in an hour.”

Communication Based Train Control (CBTC)

Overall 238 Air conditioned EMU rakes are planned to be procured for providing air conditioned services to the commuters. Improvement works at 19 suburban stations are being worked out to provide for additional space and better commuter movement at these stations. The city of Mumbai and extended suburbs are going to witness a sea change with the execution and completion of these projects.

Loan Agreement of USD 500 million has been confirmed with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Aug 2020 and further loans of USD 500 million from AIIB and USD 500 million from NDB (National Development Bank) are in process.

Works for MUTP III have started in field and those of MUTP 3A are on the drawing board. Land Acquisition is in progress for all the works. Drone Survey has also been done for KalyanBadlapur & Borivali-Virar Sections and it is planned to use Drone Monitoring inputs regularly in the Project Monitoring system being developed.

Although working on a suburban system like Mumbai which runs more than 3000 trains daily to transport 80 lakh people with a train at every 3 to 5min is a big challenge, all these works are targeted to be completed in next 4 to 5 years.

 


 

When will the tenders for procurement of Rolling Stock and Signalling systems likely to be floated for these projects? What are the opportunities for Indian companies?

Decision regarding procurement of Rolling Stock is being taken by Railway Board. Various options for migration from Non-AC to AC & for Financing are being evaluated. Once finalised, the procurement action will be initiated by Nominated Agencies.

For CBTC, work of preparation of technical specification by General Consultant is in progress and Bid is likely to be invited mid 2021.

MUTP Map


 

In the recent initiative of Building AtmaNirbhar Bharat , how can India truly become AtmaNirbhar in the railway sector? Please share your insights on areas where indigenization can be enhanced to encourage local manufacturing ?

In all the projects the extant guidelines for Atmanirbhar Bharat are being followed. Due efforts will be made to ensure maximum possible indigenisation in CBTC/ Air Conditioned Rolling stock. Complete picture will emerge after the planning process is over.

 


 

Any additional insights you would like to share with our readers?

In India we have started going in for elevated/underground Metro in a big way. Presently Metro work is in operation in about 12 cities and works are in progress in another 15 cities.

Mumbai Suburban Railway

However Suburban Transport, which is a very cost effective transport system as it utilises the existing right of way of Railways and caters to development of suburbs is the need of the hour. Our planners need to plan and cater for this so that the cities don’t get overcrowded.

 


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