DMRC MD on why the urban transporter is aggressively bidding for metro projects abroad

Vikas Kumar, MD of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, speaks to Shantanu Nandan Sharma on why the urban transporter is aggressively bidding for metro projects abroad. Edited excerpts:

What is the rationale behind Delhi Metro’s chasing a number of foreign metro projects all of a sudden? Delhi Metro now has a network of 390 km.

Once Phase 4 is completed (65 of 105 km has been sanctioned so far), we will be overtaking the metros of London and Moscow in terms of size. With about 500 km, we will then be the third largest metro in the world (after Beijing and Shanghai).

We have lots of expertise in construction, consultancy and O&M (operation and maintenance). We have been running the metro with safety and reliability since 2002. We want to increase our share of revenue from consultancy business in particular. So we decided we must expand our business outside India by using our core competence. That will fetch us some extra revenue.

Did the revenue loss during peak Covid prompt you to adopt this new strategy?
Yes, the pandemic has a role in it. Usually, we don’t ask for resources from the government for our day-to-day operations. The Covid period has been an exception. A mass transit system can’t be a pro t-making venture

the goal is always to provide transportation at an affordable cost. There is a limit to which a metro rail system can raise fares.

Where will DMRC be bidding? Will you provide only consultancy or construction as well?
DMRC is bidding for metros in Bahrain, Mauritius, Tel Aviv (Israel), Alexandria (Egypt) and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam). We are already in Dhaka (Bangladesh) but we will be bidding for one more line there. In Mauritius, we have just placed our bids. We are going solo in that project whereas in Tel Aviv, Alexandria and Ho Chi Minh City, we are part of consortiums.

In some metro projects, we are bidding for consultancy work only. Once the design and development part is over, we will try to get engaged in operation too. In some projects, for instance the one in Mauritius, we are bidding to build an entire metro line.

Are you planning to run the Dhaka Metro, a part of which is supposed to be operational by year-end?
In Dhaka, we are part of a consortium that is providing consultancy for three lines, all under construction. An 11-km portion of one of these lines is expected to be ready by the end of this year. DMRC is ready if our services for operation and maintenance are asked for. As we speak, 50 of our experts, including engineers and architects, are stationed in Dhaka. Two of our train operators are engaged in a trial. Our advantage lies in the fact that Delhi Metro’s safety and reliability has been 99.99%. And compared with any Japanese company, we are way more competitive

pricing too.

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