Even metro man gave up on me, but I won: Hyderabad Metro Rail managing director NVS Reddy
HMRL MD NVS Reddy says he plans to write a book about his experience with Hyderabad Metro and how he overcame failures.
HYDERABAD: “When I retire, I will write a book to tell the world about various challenges I faced right from the inception, when I told late Chief Minister YS Rajashekhara Reddy about my idea of having Metro in Hyderabad,” says HMRL managing director NVS Reddy, during an interaction with the editorial team of Express.
“The whole world disbelieved me; many called this a jinxed project. At one point, even my guru E Sreedharan threw stones. But eventually, I proved them all wrong. The rest is history,” says Reddy. “After the Satyam scam came to light, and affected the project, I became the butt of all jokes. Many thought it was my mistake to let that happen.”
“After that, the State was burning with protests and there were threats to my life. There were agitations occurring at all the places and the pre-bid conference had to be postponed on six instances. On one such occasion, we could not go from the office to the hotel as people were protesting against us as well,” he recalled.
Trekking legal mountains
One of the biggest difficulties, especially in the early days, was overcoming litigations. Reddy says a ‘lot’ of land issues cropped up. “Of the 360 cases that were filed, we won 343. Every NGO operating in the country, and those who filed cases against me, have vested interests against India’s development,” he claimed. “Some of these are financed by foreign nations to halt our development,” he alleged.
‘I have a social agenda’
Many may think that Metro was an answer to the existing traffic woes of the city, but NVS Reddy thinks, otherwise. “There is a social agenda behind the project. As the popular saying goes: a city is truly developed if even the rich opt for public transport. Metro is for everyone,” he said, adding that safety of women passengers had been prioritised.
“At a time when outrage against Delhi gangrape case was running high, I spoke to women on security aspects to be included in the public transport system. Based on the feedback, we installed 64 cameras with 360 degrees vision across stations to keep a watch on everyone.” The next part of his “agenda” was to recreate a village atmosphere for city kids. “We are going to start rural sports zone wherein children can play forgotten sports like kabbadi and kho-kho at some metro stations. Miyapur station, already, gives such vibe,” he said.
A model for the world
Including Hyderabad, there are Metro rail systems in 250 cities across Asia. “But of them, only 4 are making profits -- Hong Kong, Tai Pei, Tokyo, and Singapore. Even the London metro is running losses as they have subsidised prices and have not allowed private partners in this capital-intensive sector.” Reddy believes he can beat that by converging various verticals. “I got the revenue, engineering, finance, and technology experts to converge together in creating the project,” he said.
Metro alone can’t ease traffic
“Metro system cannot eliminate traffic congestion, but can definitely help contain it. It’s not a solution to our ever-growing traffic problems. The answer is to have strong last-mile connectivity, ample sidewalks and feeder services.” He explained how the Metro had helped introduce electric vehicles across stations to solve the last-mile connectivity problem.
Old City has to wait
Looks like Old City residents will have to wait to get Metro connectivity. “Works on the line between Jubilee Bus Station and Faluknama is currently on hold because of ‘issues’ that have cropped up,” Reddy said. “Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has made it very clear that we have to complete the project. However, we have to first take a call on the widening in the Old City area because it’s very congested.” He said that officials would have to take a call on the widening process after survey. “Once that is settled, we will take it forward from there,” he said. Reddy dismissed rumours about him contesting elections and said that he had no such plans.
Current Frequency of Metro
6.5 minutes during peak hours and 8 minutes during non-peak hours. Frequency to be increased for every three minutes in the next two years.
Current footfall is 80,000 and by the launch of Ameerpet to LB Nagar, the footfall is expected to rise to 1.5 lakh including 80,000 footfall that is currently being registered. After phase 1 becomes completely operational by next year, the 66 km corridor would carry 5 lakh commuters per day Ameerpet to LB Nagar (16 km) stretch to start in August and Ameerpet to Hitech City (10 km) to start by November.
One operating metro rail line with 1,000 people in a three-car train is equal to 7 bus lanes or 24 car lanes
Hyderabad Metro Rail will continue to run in losses for five years. The model is in such a way that project would break-even costs only by sixth year, Reddy said.
The concessionaire L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Limited is building the project across three corridors. The sixth year, it expects the break-even. Because the debt burden is very high. Out of about Rs 16,500 crore which they are investing Rs 3,000 crore is their equity and Rs 12,500 crore plus is debt. Interest burden alone pa will be Rs 1,300 crore, Reddy added.
With a maximum speed of 80 kmph, the average speed of the trains will be 34 kmph-an international standards for MRT systems. The last train operated by Hyderabad Metro is 11:30 p.m, it is not set to be 24 hours as maintenance works take 4 hours in between.
Hyderabad to go ‘sky-level’ in future
If plans of NVS Reddy are to go accordingly, the city may witness skywalks connecting metro stations to important commercial complexes. “The viaducts below the metro stations would have a skywalk for people to walk to their destination without having to step on the ground. It is a Bangkok model which we want to implement and, if it materialises, there would be one Hyderabad in the air and the other on the ground,” he said adding various financial models are being worked out.
Good response to STAMP
There was an encouraging response for the Station Access and Mobility Programme (STAMP) challenge announced by Hyderabad Metro Rail Ltd. in June, in partnership with World Resources Institute (WRI) India, Toyota Mobility Foundation and L&TMRHL. This is an open challenge platform for start-up companies, entrepreneurs and investors to offer technical solutions and sustainable business models to provide first mile and last mile connectivity for Metro rail services and to improve the commuter experience in Hyderabad.
Over 85 applications were received from India, US, South Africa, and European countries, of which 22 solutions were selected in the initial screening and their presentations were examined over the past three days at Metro Rail Bhavan by a jury consisting of HMRL Managing Director, NVS Reddy, COO of L&TMRHL Anil Saini, entrepreneur and Chief Technology Officer, Government of Telangana, Phanindra Sharma and experts from WRI, T-HUB, TWC, WeHUB, GE, Wells Fargo, Tempus Law, etc.