Rail Analysis: Please share with our readers about your journey with the Indian Railways and now with NCRTC? How did you get started in this sector?
Shri Vinay Kumar Singh: I started my career as an Assistant Engineer on Vadodara Division of Western Railways. Over the years, gained exposure to infrastructure planning, implementation and maintenance of rail-based transport systems. While working with Indian Railways in various capacities, I got opportunities to visit & study several global high-speed rail projects and understand the advanced technologies being adopted for such projects. Apart from many other challenging projects, I was responsible for construction of first section of Delhi Metro, which was inaugurated in 2002, and was CEO of High-Speed Rail Corporation.
While heading the implementation of the country’s first RRTS (Regional Rapid Transit System) project, the knowledge gained over the years helped me to bring new-age technological solutions to the country and to customize & optimize them to suit our needs.
As the first Managing Director of NCRTC and the organisation’s first employee, my contribution was to build a team of domain experts to start this prestigious project from ground zero. My past work experiences held me in good stead to create a crystal clear vision and direction for this transformative project. For such large-scale complex infrastructure projects, detailed planning and a pragmatic approach is very crucial. I believe in empowering people to take initiative and ownership for their work, and creating an enabling environment for my team to work with synergy.
Rail Analysis: Please let us know latest progress about the Delhi-Meerut RRTS Corridor and what is the current construction status of this project?
Shri Vinay Kumar Singh: Implementing such a complex and large-scale project brings with it several pain points, especially when many of the processes and solutions required are being used for the first time in the country. The pandemic posed huge challenges for all infrastructure projects, but in NCRTC, team members supported each other during these tough times to keep everyone safe and made use of best-in-class technological solutions to ensure the project remained on schedule.
Bhainsali Station Site in Meerut
”RRTS construction work has gathered renewed momentum as the situation starts to normalize after multiple waves of COVID. Construction on the 82 Km long Delhi – Ghaziabad- Meerut RRTS corridor is in full swing. The corridor will have 25 stations, including two depots and one stabling yard. More than 14,000 workers and 1100 engineers are working day and night at our sites”
Recently, the 22nd viaduct super structure launching gantry has been made operational on the corridor, which is the largest number for any infrastructure project in the country. Other than civil structures, low maintenance track installation, works relating to traction, power systems, signalling and telecom are progressing well.
The civil work on the Priority Section of this corridor, which is 17 km in length, having a total of 5 stations is nearing completion. The Priority Section is scheduled to be operational by March 2023. Trial runs will begin this year. The complete corridor along with Meerut Metro services will be opened for public by 2025.
Rail Analysis: There are many latest global construction practices and technologies being adopted by NCRTC for this project. Can you please highlight some of them and their application towards the efficient project management and execution?
Shri Vinay Kumar Singh: Making RRTS a technologically advanced and optimized system has been one of the core strategies since beginning. I have always encouraged my team to adopt best-in-class technological solutions for not only enhancing commuter experience but also in the implementation of the project.
In my view, technology should always be people oriented. We are using innovative IT-based tools and modules, for various aspects of project implementation. The tool for project monitoring and management, called SPEED, has been developed in-house by our own IT team. Common Data Environment (CDE) is an electronic platform which allows us to keep all documents and communication in one place. Further, Building Information Modelling (BIM) is being used – a virtual reality-based technology that provides a highly detailed and accurate digital representation of the structures and systems. We are also using CORS (continuously operating reference station) based-on global navigation satellite system technology to ensure accurate alignment of civil structures.
Duhai Station Site
We are using ETCS Level-2 signalling technology over LTE backbone, the most advanced signalling and train control system in the world. Despite the adoption of first-of-its-kind technologies for the country, we have been able to focus on the Make in India initiative. RRTS will have state-of-the-art trainsets, designed for a speed of 180 kilometres per hour, which is being designed and manufactured in the country. A factory has been established near Delhi for manufacturing new-age precast slab type Ballastless Tracks (BLT). Platform Screen Doors (PSDs), which were being imported so far, have been developed in the country for the first time by NCRTC.
Special Steel Span at Railway Crossing Near Ghaziabad
Rail Analysis: What are some of the sustainable methods used for designing and construction of the RRTS Corridor to ensure energy and water conservation and the other sustainable measures being undertaken?
Shri Vinay Kumar Singh: RRTS is a long-term strategic intervention by the Government for decongestion of the National Capital, reduce vehicular congestion and air pollution, and enable balanced and sustainable development of the region.
We have decided to maximize the use of blended renewable energy for meeting full energy requirement of RRTS corridors.
”Further, we also intend to explore possible opportunities in electric/ transformative mobility, and other alternative sources of fuels and energy. We are also targeting to generate minimum 11 MW renewable energy by way of having solar panels on stations, depots, and other auxiliary buildings. RRTS trainsets will be provided with state-of-the-art regenerative braking system, which is expected to save up to 30% of traction energy”
One of the techniques being used extensively for the project is pre-casting of various civil structures and reducing in situ construction at site.
This helps us in ensuring high quality, and timely completion of the works while significantly reducing traffic chaos, public inconvenience, and environmental issues at the sites.
Sarai Kale khan Site
RRTS is being implemented as a sustainable rapid transit project to promote the use of public transport. According to estimates once fully implemented, the first RRTS corridor will reduce more than 1,00,000 private vehicles from the roads and will lead to reduction of ~2,50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
Rail Analysis: What is the expected connectivity between the RRTS Project and Delhi metro or other metro systems?
Shri Vinay Kumar Singh: Over the last few decades, we have seen Metro rail services bringing in a modal shift in favour of public transport for intracity travel, but what has been missing is a high-speed comfortable and reliable mode of regional or intercity commute.
RRTS will fill this very gap of regional commute and enable people to stay at urban nodes across the National Capital Region (NCR) and travel to Delhi for employment, education, or healthcare.
Anand Vihar Station Site
One of the noteworthy features is the seamless integration of RRTS network with other modes of public transit. This is in line with our ‘Commuter First’ approach wherein, RRTS stations are integrated with Indian Railways, Metro stations, airport, and bus depots, wherever possible. Multi-modal- integration of mass public transit systems will lead to creation of a huge network-of- networks, improved ridership, and long-term sustainability for these highly capital-intensive projects.
Apart from physical integration, we are also working towards digital integration of the transit services. We are integrating RRTS with the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) scheme started by the Hon’ble Prime Minister under ‘One Nation One Card’ initiative. This will enable seamless travel by RRTS, metro rails, and other transport systems besides providing retail shopping opportunities.
Rail Analysis: Recently, we learnt about the SPEED platform developed and patented in-house by NCRTC Team. Please let us know more about this platform and how it can achieve higher efficiency and faster execution of the project? Can this also be adopted for other infrastructure projects?
Shri Vinay Kumar Singh: In the initial years of NCRTC, though the primary focus was on getting the projects sanctioned, yet I felt the need of investing time and effort in building a project management software which has project owner’s perspective.
With this idea in mind, we developed module after module as and when the need was felt. In the process, we developed a unique capability in form of an IT tool called Systematic Program Evaluation for Efficient Delivery of Project (SPEED). It has iteratively been refined with the experiences of implementation of this huge and complex infrastructure project.
Ghaziabad Station Site
SPEED, today, is a comprehensive solution for project monitoring and management covering modules right from pre-construction stage to construction progress, cost control, billing, LOA generation, etc. This tool has been of great help during the pandemic.
I am glad to share that this tool has received appreciation from industry peers, Government departments and international funding agencies ABD, NDB. NCRTC is already helping other infra project owners for project management using SPEED.
Rail Analysis: As we know, many Suburban corridors and Semi-high speed rail projects in India (including RRTS project) are in different stages of planning. Would NCRTC also be providing support in this regard to these projects in the future (similar to the role of DMRC in many metro projects)?
Shri Vinay Kumar Singh: To enhance productivity of the overall region, provide seamless access to education, healthcare, and employment opportunities, enable polycentric development, generate employment opportunities, and better access to affordable housing a total of 8 RRTS corridors have been identified for NCR. In the years to come, economic development in the country will mostly be driven by few mega-regions like NCR. Similar systems will certainly be instrumental in other mega-regions of the country to catalyse economic growth.
Sahibabad Station Site
In last few years, while implementing the first RRTS corridor, we have gained expertise and developed innovative solutions required for such large-scale high-speed rail projects. Since the beginning of the project, we have been documenting in detail all our systems, processes, and protocols. These would prove to be very helpful for replication of similar projects across the country. NCRTC would be keen on sharing our knowledge base and expertise with other government organizations for implementation of such complex and large-scale transport infrastructure projects in future. This will also be in line with our motto of bringing people and places together and contributing to build a New India!
This Interview is a part of our latest Magazine: Subscribe to our Magazine Today!