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Two years after, Namma Metro has more Indian experts

Bangalore, Prashanth G N, October 19, 2013: 1:20 IST

Around 150 foreign experts have returned home after completing work

Namma Metro began commercial operation on MG Road-Baiyyappanahalli stretch on  October 20, 2011.
Namma Metro is without doubt a multi-nation effort, but increasingly Indian engineers and workers are catching up in complex technology, design and management work and replacing foreign experts.

U A Vasanth Rao, a senior official of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL), told Deccan Herald on the occasion of the second anniversary of Namma Metro: “In the work force, many Indian engineers have worked closely with foreign experts and have gained experience in handling projects independently. Many foreign experts have already left India on completion of their jobs and Indian engineers have taken over their place.”

About 150 foreign experts have been replaced by Indian experts. The number of foreign experts was around 300 when work began on Namma Metro in 2007-08; in 2013 it is around 150. This means while 150 foreign experts continue to guide Namma Metro two years into its operation, launched on October 20, 2011, the rest 150 personnel are now Indians at higher levels including engineering and project management. Namma Metro commenced commercial operation on MG Road-Baiyyappanahalli stretch on October 20, 2011.

Transfer of expertise

Rao said the gradual replacement of foreign experts by Indian experts is happening because of transfer of expertise. “Due to foreign collaboration, Indian companies like Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) are involved in manufacturing of rolling stock as they have sufficient expertise now in the manufacture of metro trains, while other companies likewise have the expertise in developing signaling and communication system.

“We have a policy of consortium bidding whereby Indian contractors/companies participate along with foreign contractors/ companies so that over a period of time Indian counterparts get the expertise to handle construction contracts and system contracts independent of foreign collaboration,” he said.

Foreign personnel from 25 countries have been participating in Namma Metro’s development. Canada, USA, UK, Germany, Italy, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Russia, Austria, Indonesia, Netherland, France, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Philippines and Belgium have contributed materials, men and machines to Namma Metro. “People from these countries have worked as labour, designers and project managers. Tunnelling work for instance is being done also by Taiwanese and Russians, who have helped Indian workers gain expertise,” points out Rao.

Nearly 3,000 workers from Jharkhand and Orissa have been involved in tunneling work. Indonesians have also been involved in laying tracks. Rao says the most important contribution from the foreign workforce has been in five areas: “Foreign experts have contributed in the area of tunneling, rolling stock design, rail supply, signalling and telecom, and project management.”

South Korea's Hyundai Rotem and Japan’s Mitsubishi have passed on the technology of manufacturing coaches to BEML. Alstom France has provided signalling, traction, telecommunication and all electronic monitoring and air-conditioning systems. Portugal too has contributed equipment for signalling and telecom. ABB Austria has passed on electricity transmission technology and technology to lay ballastless tracks, while Japan's bore machines have taken care of underground tunnelling.

Namma Metro in terms of technology is comparable to metros around the world, whether in Europe, USA or China. It is ahead of even Delhi metro. The ballastless track system is used by 70 per cent of the world's metros.

Some of the technologies coming from foreign expertise and collaboration include ballastless track system, electricity on third rail, wi-fi enabled coaches, voice communication/speaker system between passengers, driver and control centre, automatic train supervision and sensing another train on the same track and coming to a halt and automatic ticketing.

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