05 July 2020

Interaction-Pankaj Kumar Bansal, MD, Chennai Metro Rail Ltd

In order to meet the future traffic demand, the expansion of mass transit corridor is imperative

Chennai Metropolis has been growing rapidly and the traffic volumes on the roads have also increased enormously. The need of the hour is a new rail based rapid transport system that will provide the people of Chennai with a fast, reliable, convenient, efficient, modern and economical mode of public transport, which is properly integrated with other forms of public and private transport including buses, sub-urban trains and MRTS. PANKAJ KUMAR BANSAL, MANAGING DIRECTOR, CHENNAI METRO RAIL LTD spoke to CONSTRUCTION OPPORTUNITIES on the current status of the project and future opportunities


Please brief us on the current status of the metro rail project.

In order to improve the Public Transport share and provide sustainable urban transportation system, the Government of Tamil Nadu has decided to implement the Chennai Metro Rail Project.

The Phase-1 of Chennai Metro Rail Project operation covers a length of 45.046 km network and consists of two corridors i.e. Corridor-1 – From Washermenpet to Airport (23.085 Km), Corrridor-2 – From Chennai Central to St.Thomas Mount (21.961 Km). About 55 per cent of the corridors in Phase-I is underground and the remaining elevated. The section of elevated corridor is fully operational now (i.e. Corridor-2: Koyambedu to St.Thomas Mount and Corridor-1: Airport to Little Mount). The remaining underground sections will be operationalised in three stages by the end of June 2018. Phase-1 extension with length of 9 Km also has been taken up recently and underground works have started. Entire Project will be completed by 2019.


What are the expected long-term impacts and opportunities from the Project?

In most urban areas traffic congestion is increasing significantly due to the rapid growth of the private vehicles, urbanisation and decreasing share of Public Transportation.

The present share of public transportation for Chennai city is 31 per cent, and its share has been declining when compared with the past. The Metro rail system can support for the increase in share of Public Transport system. Further, the Metro rail project would generate significant direct and indirect employment for skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workforce. As Metro Transport system is completely pollution free, it will improve the air quality for citizen.



How will construction of the metro rail project impact the community?    

Metro systems are superior to other modes because they provide higher carrying capacity, faster, smoother and safer travel, occupy less space, are non-polluting and energy-efficient. To summarise, a Metro system:

  • Requires 1/5th energy per passenger km compared to road-based system
  • Reduces journey time by anything between 50 per cent and 75 per cent depending on road conditions
  • Carries same amount of traffic as 7 lanes of bus traffic or 24 lanes of private motor cars (either way), if it is a medium capacity system.
  • Causes no air pollution and lesser noise level in the city
  • Occupies no road space if underground and only about 2 meter width of the road if elevated
  • Is more reliable, comfortable and safer than road based system



Expected cost of the project and fund disbursed so far (Rs.in Crores)



Phase-1 Extension

Cost of Project



Funds Disbursed




Any interesting highlights or features which distinguish this project from other metro rail projects?

Chennai Metro Rail Ltd is advocating Multi Modal Integration (MMI) to ensure better mobility to metro users and the travelling public Transport. Multi Modal Integration Strategy has been built in to the Project Design itself. Phase-1 of Chennai Metro Rail Project corridor is running along the major arterial roads and connecting Road, Rail and Air Transport hubs such as Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT), Chennai Central station, Egmore station, Airport. As part of safety and energy saving strategy, Chennai Metro Rail has installed Platform Screen Door (PSD) at all Underground Metro stations.It is the first metro project in India which has platinum rating from Indian Green Building Council (IGBC)


What are the challenges specific to this metro?

General Challenges:

  • Stakeholders Coordination
  • Traffic Diversion during construction
  • Land Acquisition
  • Mixed geological strata and high level of Water table


Specific Challenges:

Crossing of Flyover: Balanced Cantilever Spans

To facilitate crossing of the Kathipara fly over near Alandur, the Elevated Corridor No.2 has 3 spans of balanced cantilever type, (Spans 59, 75 and 39 m), which were constructed without providing any temporary supports from underneath and also without disturbing the traffic


Crossing of Suburban Railway : Steel Girders across Railway Tracks at Guindy

At Guindy, the Corridor –I passes over the existing railway track. In view of the heavy rail traffic, steel girders of span 69 m and 36 m have been provided. These are the only spans which are of steel, all others being of concrete.

  • Mixed Ground Condition
  • Passing of Tunnel through restricted area like heritage building etc.



How do you justify cutting trees for a Metro?
The tree cutting is justified by obeying the direction of Hon'ble High Court, Chennai and instructions issued by the Chairman and Managing Director of CMRL by taking Compensatory Planting works with the help of Tamil Nadu Forest Department (TNFD) at the ratio of 1:12 in and around Chennai City.



Detail us with regards to the latest technologies like construction equipment, software, building.

  • Solar: CMRL has already installed 1.125MW of solar capacity on rooftop at RS depot and car parking area. Contract for 6MW rooftop and ground mounted awarded with work in progress. These will save nearly 200,000 tonnes of CO2
  • LED Lighting: All elevated and UG stations have been provided with LED lighting saving energy.
  • Chiller Plant pumps have been provided with V3F Drive at all UG stations saving energy.
  • Re-generative Braking provided in all trains whereby, nearly 30 per cent traction energy is re-generated during braking.
  • All Escalators are provided with V3F drive with automatic stoppage in case of no patronage, thereby conserving energy.
  • Waste water recycling in depot area for water conservation



What are the green initiatives taken for the Metro project?

  • So far, CMRL planted 60000 Saplings in and around Chennai City from 2010.Rare / Endangered / Red List / Trees are transplanted by adopting MIYAVAGI Technic.1280 Saplings were planted in 400 Square Metres area.
  • CMRL has already installed 1.125MW of solar capacity on rooftop at Rolling Stock depot and car parking area. Further contract for 6MW rooftop and ground mounted awarded with work in progress.
  • Entire elevated stations (13 Nos) have got Platinum Leed Rating byIndian Green Building Council (IGBC) Certification.



Future outlook

In order to meet the future traffic demand, the expansion of mass transit corridor is an imperative. A standalone Metro system of 54Kms being constructed at present by itself, is not sufficient to address to traffic needs of Chennai. There is a case for considering expansion of Mass Transit options. Nationally and globally it is seen that the metro network expands progressively to cover entire city.

In this Context, Chennai Metro Rail Ltd is also currently working on the preparation of Detailed Project report for Metro Rail Phase-2 expansion.

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