17 October 2018

Interaction- Pankaj Kumar Bansal, Managing Director, Chennai Metro Rail Ltd

We are currently planning on the Phase II expansion

Chennai Metropolis has been growing rapidly and the traffic volumes on the roads have also increased enormously. Chennai Metro Rail Ltd is advocating Multi Modal Integration (MMI) to ensure better mobility to metro users and the travelling public.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?


The Phase – I of Chennai Metro Rail project operation covers a length of 45.046 km network and consists of two corridors i.e. Corridor-I – From Washermenpet to Airport (23.085 Km), Corridor -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 entire Elevated corridor is opened for Revenue Service (i.e.Corridor-2 – Koyambedu to St. Thomas Mount) subsequently Underground section from Thirumangalam to Nehru Park is also opened for Revenue service.



Phase1 - Stages




Stage -1

Koyambedu - Alandur




Stage -1A

Littlemount - Airport




Stage -1

Alandur -

St.Thomas Mount




Stage -2A

Thiumangalam - Nehru Park

Under Ground



The entire tunnel portion has been completed. Underground stations along with system works are in progress. The remaining underground sections will be operationalized in three stages by the end of December 2018




Phase1 - Stages


Expected - Rod


Stage -2B

Nehru Park - Chennai Central

Under Ground




Little Mount - AGDMS

Under Ground




AGDMS - Washermenpet

Under Ground




Phase I Extension with length of 9.05 Km from Washermenpet to Wimco Nagar are work in progress. The entire tunnel portion has been completed. Viaduct and construction of Underground stations are work in progress. Entire project will be completed by March2020.


Phase II expansion for the length of 107.55 KM consists of 26.59Km of elevated and 80.96 Km of Underground section. This proposal is under the process of approval from Government of India.



Expected cost of the project and funds disbursed so far?


Phase -1

Phase I Extension

Cost of Project

Rs.19058 Cr.

Rs.3770 Cr.

Funds Disbursed

Rs.14958 Cr.

Rs.810 Cr.



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 Model Integration Strategy has been built in to the Project Design itself. Phase -1 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 in Phase I itself. 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) for designing metro station in an environmental friendly manner with minimal energy foot print. India’s first SIL-3 rated Tunnel Ventilation SCADA System. Developed a Control Software from the scratch. The underground length is more than elevated length. Ballast less track depot has been constructed first time in Indian Metro.


What are the challenges specific to this metro project and how has it been overcome.

General Challenges:

  • Stakeholders Involvements and ownership
  • Coordination activity between various Stakeholders like Defence, Railways, Airport, Postal etc.
  • Institutional/Regulatory Setup
  • Land availability – From Various Stakeholders like Defence, Railways, Private etc.
  • Rationalization of existing Public Transport Systems
  • Common Ticketing Solutions and Revenue Sharing

Technical 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 & 39 m), which were constructed without providing any temporary supports from underneath and also without disturbing the traffic

Crossing of Suburban Railway:

a) Elevated: Steel Girders across Railway Tracks at Guindy

At Guindy, the Corridor –I pass 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.

b) Under Ground: Egmore to Chennai Central, HighCourt to Chennai Central, MayDay Park to Chennai Central – Below the Operational Southern Railway Line, tunnels are build coordination with Railway Team. Intensity Instrumentation Monitoring has been done during the tunnel drive.

Tunnel are specially designed to handle the heavy load of southern railway track, Movable trains, and future expansion of the track.

Mixed Ground Condition encountered by TBM:Tunneling through mixed face geology has been a major challenge for the executing contractors since the tunnel progress achievement is a tough and highly demanding work

Passing of Tunnel through heritage building etc.: Madras High court, LIC building, Ripon building, Egmore Railway Station, Andrew’s Church etc.

Heavy Traffic: Traffic Constraints on Logistics/storage. Traffic diversion Schemes were implemented in stage wise to avoid traffic jam at road.

High water table area: The alignment is located in an area of high water table and the safe implementation relied upon the effective dewatering operations



Green Initiatives taken for the Metro Rail project?

  • Cutting of trees were minimized. So far, CMRL planted 60,000 saplings in and around Chennai City from 2010. Rare/ Endangered/ Red List/ Trees are transplanted by adopting MIYAVAGI (Japanese Technic) 1280 Saplings were planted in 400 Sqm area.
  • Entire elevated stations (13nos), Underground station (7 nos) has received Platinum Lead Rating by India Green Building Council (IGBC) Certification.
  • CMRL has already installed 1.125 MW of solar capacity on rooftop at Rolling Stock depot and car parking areaContract for 6MW roof top and ground mounted awarded to the contractor and work will be started soon.
  • LED Lighting: All elevated and UG stations have been provided with LED lighting for saving energy


Key Learning’s from your experience and how they can be applied to the forthcoming projects?

  • Mixed Ground Condition: To be determined more preciously at closer interval while geotechnical investigation
  • Passing Tunnel through Heritage building
  • Coordination with other stake holders


  • Alignment mostly along arterial road corridors and meeting out minimum curve radius. Considerations for future road expansion and maintaining vertical clearances              
  • Reduction of Station box size in Underground station.
  • Least land Acquisition.
  • Station Optimisation
    • The track centres optimized
    • Platform width and Safety zone minimized through provision of Platform Screen doors
  • Packaging Strategy
    • Optimisation of Packaging
  • Mixed soil conditions and its impact of TBM selection and design
  • Traffic management aspects due to limited road width during execution
  • Crossing of railway tracks, rivers, bridges, etc
  • Provisions for additional load for future developments proposed on alignment ie for flyover etc.
  • Integration of Metro structures with existing/proposed infrastructure like fly overs
  • Provisions for property development

Closer spacing between stations to improve accessibility

Multimodal integration - Unique cross over experience at Chennai Central

  • Challenges during execution:
  • Control of vibration and noise during execution
  • Cracks in buildings and their rectification
  • Sink hole formation and its management
  • Foam/slurry leakage and plugging of bore wells
  • Differential Settlements and underpinning/ground improvement
  • Propping of old buildings with struts

Tunnel cross passages

Challenges in Contract Management

All the learnings will be taken care of forthcoming projects. Project Management Toll BIM-Building Information Module Technology will be used for future project.



Detail us with regards to the latest technologies being used in the metro rail project?

  • Solar: CMRL has already installed 1.125 MW of solar capacity on rooftop at RS depot and car parking area. Contract for 6MW roof top and ground mounted awarded to the contractor and work will be started soon. The 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 Breaking 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.
  • Wastewater recycling in depot area for water conservation
  • Ballast less track in Depot area
  • Green Building station in Elevated and Underground

Latest Technology in Underground Construction:

  • TBM retrieval under water: A new method of TBM retrieval was used first time in Chennai. The shaft was initially filled with bentonite and above filled with water up to upper track slab level prior to break through. This option was adopted due to constraints for ground improvement outside the shaft and no space for confinement within the shaft.
  • TBM launch and retrieval in concrete block
  • Reduction of underground station box size in Phase I Extension: One of the major changes that helped in actualizing the small station concept is the redesign of the tunnel ventilation system. This has resulted in the arrangement of vertical fans, as against the horizontal fans as proposed in Phase 1.Revamping the space utilization concept of the stations.



What are the Key differences between Metros in other countries compared to India?

There is no difference. Chennai Metro is comparable with any other metros in other countries, as we adopted world class latest Technologies.



Which according to you is the landmark metro project in India and abroad?

Landmark metro project i.e. DMRC, CMRL, BMRCL in India comparable with London (Underground), Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand.



Future Plans and outlook on metros in India?

In this Context, Chennai Metro Rail Ltd is also currently planning on the Phase II expansion for the length of 107.55 KM.

In this 26.59 Km of length is elevated and 80.96 Km of length is Underground which is under the process of approval from Government of India.

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