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Controversy over whether to use Broad Gauge or Standard Gauge in Mumbai Metro

September 6, 2007

Broad Gauge or Standard Gauge? That’s the current controversy haunting the Mumbai Metro Project. A group of senior railway officials have filed a PIL in the court opposing the state government’s plan to go ahead with standard gauge for Mumbai Metro. I didn’t read about this PIL in a newspaper and neither did I see it on television. Perhaps it has not been reported or if it has, I missed it. I got to know about it because one of the people who is party to the PIL told me about it.

The main difference between broad gauge and standard gauge is that we have broad gauge almost all over the country. Broad gauge rails are wider than the standard gauge ones. In India, the broad gauge is around 5.5 feet, but anything above 4 ft 8½ in (which is the standard gauge) can be termed as broad gauge.

If the Mumbai Metro Project uses the broad gauge track, it will mean using the existing infrastructure in India to make the coaches. There will be no need for imports, thus saving crores of rupees. Also the coaches which are used on broad gauge (3.66 metre wide) are bigger than the coaches on standard gauge (3.2 metres wide) and can carry heavier loads – in other words – more people. Apparently, one whole row of standing passengers extra in each coach!

So why is the government going in for standard gauge? Because it’s used widely in Europe and in America – that’s one reason. Apparently this means easy and quick availability of high quality coaches. Mumbai Metro officials have been quoted in The Hindu as saying:

The standard gauge is better as it allows a low turning radius of 90 to 140 metres as against 175 metres for broad gauge and this reduces the requirement of land when the Metro has to take a curving turn. Since world over almost all the major Metro systems are on this gauge, quality is ensured because of mass production. Moreover, adoption of standard gauge also ensures adoption of and up-gradation to latest technologies in rolling stock, suspension, braking traction and propulsion in future as well.

As I am not an railway engineer, it is very difficult for me to make any judgment on the technical aspects. But the other arguments of the metro officials seem weak to me:

It (wider coaches of broad gauge) means a higher expenditure on the platforms and the safety systems since the emergency evacuation measures require that a station be designed in such a way that three trainloads of passengers can be safely evacuated in less than six minutes. Also, in bigger coaches more expensive air-conditioners are required. In standard gauge coaches electricity costs will be saved… power consumption will be reduced to 50 units per km by using light stainless steel bodies…

True, but what about the capital cost of importing the coaches as opposed to making in-house ones? The photo on the right is one of an inhouse one:

Brig. P.V. Gole, who along with senior railway officials has filed the PIL against the state government spoke to me yesterday. He said that the cost of each imported coach is Rs 9 crore while the cost of an indigenous one is Rs 3 crore!! And what about the spare parts? Surely, these too will have to be imported?? “Our case is strong, we want this proposal to be discarded at this stage itself,’ is what Brig. Gole told me.

In fact a similar controversy had dogged Delhi metro. And at that time, the railways, who were insistent on broad gauge won the battle. Delhi got its broad gauge…but guess what. Someone else overturned the decision and now standard gauge coaches are being used in Delhi metro! It is technically feasible to use the smaller coaches even on broad gauge.

It is indeed difficult to understand why Delhi metro did this…is India incapable of meeting deadlines or is our country incapable of building coaches of a high quality? Or has some sort of cost calculation been done to prove that this is a cheaper option?

The answers to these questions are important as the controversy is not about which is better – broad gauge or standard gauge – it is a question of what is better suited to India. In any case, neither neither broad gauge nor standard gauge has been definitely proven to be superior or ideal. Each system has its faithful followers.

The government does have a solution to the smaller capacities of standard gauge coaches – they plan to add more coaches and increase the frequency of trains so that capacity is not reduced. But surely this can be done anyway, with broad gauge, and capacity can be increased further?

Interestingly, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune metros are all slated to adopt the standard gauge.

I do not have all the answers, but the fact is that railway engineers wanted broad gauge in Delhi and now they want it in Mumbai and this is significant.

Frankly all kinds of dark thoughts about the motivations of the politicians are flooding my mind. I may be wrong…but right now I really am not one of those people who believes that our politicians are squeaky clean. If I did, I might have believed that all this is being done for our own good, in national interest.

UPDATE: I just spoke to VKJ Rane, the ex-managing director of IRCON and he said that standard gauge is “not in national interest as it only caters to 25 years in the future.” And after 25 years, the government will again have to go in for standard gauge coaches as the rails will be standard gauge.

(The first picture is from the booklet on the Mumbai Metro Project, the second one is linked to the original, the third has been provided by Brig. Gole.)

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44 Comments leave one →
  1. V K J Rane/Ex-M.D.IRCON permalink
    September 6, 2007 12:11 pm

    My comments on various issues are as under

    1) Sharp Curves—Technical opinion given by DMRC (Sreedharan/MD/DMRC ) and accepted by MMRDA is WRONG. as Min of Railways communicated in their letter dated 21st July 2006 to govt of Maharashtra that technology exists to adopt the same alignment negotiating 100 m curves by BG coaches. Hence there will be no need to acquire additional land nor dismantling of adjoining buildings as apprehended MMRDA The restriction of 175 m radius on BG is due to four wheeler wagons required to be operated on BG. As proposed metro will operate only on 8 wheeler passenger trains, the restriction of 175m is No longer valid. I have a design made by foreign experts with BG coaches capable of negotiating 100m curves and following the same alignment as that for SG. The reply given by Member Engineering, the highest technical authority on Indian Railways has been disregarded without even discussing it further with him..
    MMRDA in accepting the views of an individual (DMRC) has MISGUIDED the Maharashtra GOVT. on this subject

    2) There is no wisdom or logic in adopting SG for our country because 80% of the countries in world have adopted SG. What is good for Europe is NOT necessarily good for us. Number of metros in the world use different gauges Moscow use 1520 mm national gauge, Melbourne in Australia use 1600 mm gauge, BART in USA after 1970 preferred 1676 mm gauge (same as Indian BG) though their system is predominately SG. The metro systems in Russian cities of Yekaterinburg and Kazan commissioned in 1991, and 2005 respectively are based on 1520 mm gauge and NOT SG. Best in the world technology for metro has been adopted by BART USA since 2003 and being further extended BG only. Thus Government of Maharashtra has been misguided by DMRC and MMRDA

    3) Technology is independent of gauge. Best in the world technology has been adopted by BART Metro/USA, on BG, though they have SG system for their main line system.

    4) No where in the world, a metro coach is designed for a standing capacity of 87 % as more than 35 min. of traveling in standing position cause discomfort and fatigue to passengers (Charkob-Bandra- Mankhurd (CBM) corridor (60 min of travel for 32 kms.) BG sub. Coaches are more comfortable due to more sitting capacity.

    5) . SG coaches with closed doors and windows due to air conditioning, and at an elevated level are more subjected to overturning effect and there fore less safer than BG due to smaller gauge width of SG

    6) EVACUATION OF PASSENGERS—At present at Churchgate station 4500 passengers are evacuated in less than 3 min.. The excuse of difficulties in evacuation is not based on facts. One has to do proper planning to meet the traffic demand . One should NOT restrict the capacity against traffic demand.

    a. DMRC corridor on NON-PPP route was executed in Delhi at Rs 100/- crores per Km while the Mumbai Metro Railway corridor bid was accepted through PPP route at Rs 200/- crores per Km

    b. This was in addition to a VG funding of Rs 650/- crores.

    c. The cost of imported coaches provided in the bid price was rs 9/- crores per coach against the cost of Rs 2.20/- crores per coach recently supplied by ICF for MRVC for Mumbai suburban section. And Rs 4.5 crores estimated cost based on that purchased for Delhi Metro .

    d. If wider coaches were adopted, the number of coaches required for Mumbai VAG corridor would be 72 as against 108 assessed with narrow

    e. wide coaches. This would considerably reduced the total cost of rolling stock, infrastructure cost of reduced length of platforms and covers, length of depot and cost of land for depot for a given volume of traffic

    f. The operation and Maintenance cost of BG with wider coaches for a given volume of traffic and electrical cost would be considerably reduced there by further reducing the VGF costs.

    g. The cost of the SG project with 3.2 m wide coaches would be considerably high, if compared with cost of BG with 3.66 m wide coaches. This was deliberately avoided by MMRDA while consideration of alternative bids of BG and SG.

    h. ATC & ATO Signaling –It is seen from traffic demand that for the entire concession period there is NO need to operate at 2m frequency. If that is so there is NO justification to insist on provision of ATC signaling costing around Rs 70 crores initially and replace 70 % of it after 16 years. This has unnecessarily inflated the cost of VGF subsidy. This could have been avoided by keeping provision in Rolling stock for future provision of ATC as traffic demand increases. In fact for a country like India, there is NO need for ATO ( Driverless Operation) as in any case manning of Cab will be required for closing doors.

    i. COST OF LAND–MMRDA has been misguided that BG will need additional land. As the corridor is elevated the additional width of 0.45 m is required at the top of the corridor while NO additional land is required at the ground level. In fact there is a savings in land requirements for depot and other areas due to reduced length of a rake, for a given volume of traffic demand.

    j. ABSOLUTE COST–The cost of Construction, Maintenance and operation for BG with wider coaches per unit carrying capacity is less by around 20% than that for SG with narrow coaches. Absolute cost of the project is NOT the right way of comparing costs, as has been misguided by DMRC and accepted by MMRDA. The absolute cost pf MG with narrow coaches, (as adopted in Japan Metros) would be lower than that for SG.

    k. PRE DECISION ON SG–Technical planning has deliberately overlooked such simple issues mentioned above. Reason being DMRC and MMRDA were keen to introduce SG in MUMBAI and other cities in India, at any cost and irrespective of the technical and other merits of BG with wider coaches. . This was officially stated by MD/DMRC in our first official meeting held with MMRDA commissioner in the year 2004 and all action to invite bids were taken on the basis of SG only even before the final decision on gauge was taken by the Govt of Maharashtra.

    l. GAUGE NON TRANSFERENCY — The way the entire subject has been planned and handled and pursued in a non-transparent manner by the authorities in charge of this project, creates a doubt in the minds of the public of the intentional promotion of a long term interests of overseas vendors and consultants .This needs a second look, investigation, and review at the appropriate level.

    8. AIR CONDITIONING OF COACHES — DMRC states that Air conditioning for wider coaches of 3.66m are NOT available and feasible in the world market It is natural that if the developed world does NOT have coaches wider than 3.66 m, they would not have ready-made systems for air conditioning for such wider coaches. Enquiries made from ICF and other Rly. Coach manufacturing units have revealed that it is possible to design AC system if required. Indian railways are going to introduce AC in their existing wide coach suburban section in Mumbai. It is seen from the above that the entire thinking is based on supporting overseas manufactures.

    9) CAPACITY CONSIDERATIONS – The SG corridor has been designed to cater for a crush capacity traffic demand for the next 25 years only with no provision for future increase in capacity, either by way of increase in frequency or by increasing the number of coaches per train. The existing planning is based on the above limitations.
    · In fact, there is a deliberate attempt to ensure that in future, the system cannot adopt wider coaches and future conversion to BG by ensuring restricted spacing between the two tracks.
    · Thus future adoption of BG on these SG section would involve complete dismantling of the RCC elevated bridge structure.

    10) MUMBAI NEEDS HMRTS & NOT MRTS – Keeping in view the rate of growth of population of the city of Mumbai and the grand DREAMS of REMAKING MUMBAI ON SHANGHAI PATTERN, resulting in concentrated pockets of heavy population density, the transportation demand for mass transit is bound to increase, necessitating a Heavy Mass Transit System (HMRTS) and NOT a limited capacity MRTS suited to European population.

    11) Capacity planning for Mumbai Metro – Capacity depends on a) Frequency of service (limited to 2 min), b) Number of coaches per train c) The width of each coach. The existing planning of MMRDA as proposed for Charkop, Bandra, Mankhurd Section is a maximum of 8 coaches per train at 2min service with 3.2m (10 ft 6 inch) wide coaches. This gives a maximum capacity of 375 passengers per coach X 8 coaches per train X 30 trains per hour at (2min service) = 90,000 passengers per hour per direction, this will reach in a period of 25 years as assessed by MMRDA.
    However, BG with 3.66m (12ft 0 inch) wider coaches are adopted with 12 coaches per train and a frequency of 2min service, (which is possible On BG also) the total capacity would be 450 passengers per coach X 12 coaches per train X 30 trains per hour (at 2min service) = 1 62 000 PPHPD. Thus this would cater for more than 50 years.

    Concluding – The state government has been completely misguided by DMRC and MMRDA by giving WRONG data and making recommendations on invalid conclusions as they had predetermine the adoption of SG for all Metro systems allover the country

    V K J Rane / Ex-MD/IRCON
    6th September 2007

    • elephantisland permalink
      June 9, 2016 9:42 pm

      Thank You! for your very detailed analysis. We are convinced that you had been all your career with the railways and had an impeccable career.
      Our analysis is not technical or commercial but the SPEED of implementation and commissioning of the project.
      The cost of locally manufacturing the equipment can be one third of importing but the time to start operating the system too is one third of the broad gauge.

  2. September 6, 2007 12:47 pm

    VKJ Rane Sir,thank you very much for this detailed comment. Not being aware of the technical matters, I had not dealt with them in my post and am very grateful to you for this detailed input.
    After reading through your comment, the suspicions that I had regarding our politicians has been confirmed.
    I cannot thank you enough. I hope that my post helps in creating more awareness of this issue in the minds of the public and that it will go a little way in helping your case. Which is to protect the interests of the citizens of this country.
    Jai Hind.

    P.S. I request any person who works for a newspaper or a magazine or television to give time and space to this story. Once the media makes an issue of this, the government will be forced to become transparent. They owe the public that, if at least to remove the suspicions from our mind! If they want the benefit of the doubt, they need to go public with all the pros and cons of using standard gauge!!

  3. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 6, 2007 12:51 pm


    I, too, am not a railway engineer, but am definitely a train enthusiast — a “rail-veda” as one of my partners-in-crime from Pune puts it. To the extent that I understand the subject, a difference between the gauge for which rolling-stock is manufactured and the gauge used in the country of manufacture is not a big constraint, except when cutting-edge research and experimentaion is involved, which includes test runs over several km (10s, not even 100s) of track in real life operating conditions. Until the 1960s-70s, despite production capacity already having arrived in India, most of our rolling stock was imported from countries in Europe and North America where railway systems run on standard gauge. Even now, the latest coaches being introduced on the Rajdhani Expresses and some of the ISO-whatever trains are imported from abroad.

    The point about breadth of wagon too, I believe, is not a great issue. You would be aware, for example, that the wagons in the EMUs used by the suburban systems of Mumbai, Kolkata and and Chennai (asnd a few other places too) are broader than those of the long-distance trains, even though both run on the same 5′ 6″ gsuge.

    Regarding turning radii, you may be right, though even that would have to be checked with a railway engineer. As far as my lay observation goes, how sharp a turn a train can take is determined by factors such as

    1. The design of the bogie or wheelset at either end of the wagon and how the body of the wagon “sits” on it;

    2. The distance between the ends of adjacent wagons — the farther apart they are the sharper the turn possible;

    3. The banking of the tracks on a bend, which determines how fast the train can take the bend without toppling over owing to centrifugal force; if the banking is not adequate the turn necessarily had to be slow. However, given the kind of frequency and spacing of halts on a metro system, the trains in any case cannot reach the kind of speeds that long-distance express trains run at.

    As I see it, the only argument in favour of adopting broad gauge on Mumbai Metro is that it would allow for overlapping and interchange of routes using the Metro and the existing suburban system.

    As an aside, there is a humorous dimension to how standardisation in one area of technology can cut across totally unrelated developments in space and time. Will mail it separately.


  4. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 6, 2007 1:00 pm

    Sorry, I did not see Mr. Rane’s post before I wrote mine. I am sure he has put the technical aspects more authentically and elegantly than I have.


  5. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 6, 2007 1:20 pm


    Here’s the “aside” I promised in my first post on this thread. I hope you won’t censor the one mildly unparliamentary word that appears in it: that would considerably curtail the humour of it.



    Does the statement, “We’ve always done it like that” ring any bells?

    The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number.

    Why was that gauge used?

    Because that’s the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US Railroads.

    Why did the English build them like that?

    Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.

    Why did “they” use that gauge then?

    Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

    Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing ?

    Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts.

    So who built those old rutted roads ?

    Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.

    And the ruts in the roads ?

    Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels.

    Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. And bureaucracies live forever.

    So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse’s ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses !

    Now, the twist to the story

    When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.

    The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains.The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel.

    The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses’ behinds.

    So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse’s ass.

    – And –

    You thought being a HORSE’S ASS wasn’t important !

    Postscript: I regret I do not know about the original author of the Horse’s Ass story. It came to me through a series of forwards.


    • elephantisland permalink
      June 9, 2016 9:29 pm

      The decision is based on speedy implementation!
      One of the hangovers of Nehruvian socialistic lethargic decision making process in our democracy is to not allow even the right minded politician to be open to the public. Just take a walk in one of the factories making coaches like ICF and you will get the answer.

  6. September 6, 2007 1:47 pm

    Vivek: 😀 and when future generations of Indians ask:
    Why are India’s metros on standard gauge, the answer is:

    Because the Americans and the Europeans built them like that!

  7. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 6, 2007 1:58 pm


    And if and when ISRO’s promised moon mission materialises, we can proudly say that our rocket boosters are bigger than theirs — unless we decide to follow their specs.

  8. krenim permalink
    September 6, 2007 3:45 pm

    You know in my great country most of the track is narrow gauge 🙂

    But aren’t the metro coaches licence manufactured by some indian company,I recall reading as much at “” so what seems to be the problem here ?

    And if Japan with a pop density far greater than India runs on the standard gauge why should India have issues with such a solution.

  9. September 6, 2007 4:31 pm

    Krenim, as far as I see it, its a question of strong suspicions of corruption. The coaches are imported. 9 crore (thats an additional zero after million) for one coach is a lot!
    the main thing is that why not have indigenous coaches if they can meet our needs? Thats what even I, as a layman, cannot understand. And the whole country more or less runs on broad gauge.

  10. September 6, 2007 4:32 pm

    For more insight into the entertaining story above, see here or here. And for more on the Englishman who actually decided on the standard guage and the 20 different guages in use in the US, see this.

    I’m sorry I can’t contribute much to the investigative journalistic post! 🙂

  11. krenim permalink
    September 6, 2007 4:44 pm

    I think this is a typical Indian response if you would forgive me. I mean anything that is imported is imported due to kickbacks I mean really most of our coaches on the tube are made in France its not as though we couldn’t do it ourselves its just that its way cheaper to import from Alstom than make it here.Its comparative advantage economics 101.

  12. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 6, 2007 4:54 pm

    Thanks, Mahendra. Disillusionment does kill entertainment very effectively!!

  13. September 6, 2007 4:59 pm

    Mahendra, thanks.
    Krenim, maybe typically India, but kickbacks are a normal routine thng here. you cannot compare the UK and India in that sense. also when logic does not explain all the reasons the needle of suspicion points to the politicians. when the railways themselves feel that broad gauge is better, why is the govt disagreeing? and more important, we are a poor country. we need to make it if possible, make it in India.

  14. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 6, 2007 5:02 pm

    Krenim, while I will go along with your incredulousness about the nexus between imports and kickbacks, modern India has NOT yet evolved industrially to the point where engineering imports (from the West, especially) could be cheaper than indigenous manufacture. Remember, we are just beginning to come of age in the technological tradition introduced by your people — in the process thoroughly destroying whatever indigenous technological abilities we had. Unlike Britain, Germany and France, whose technology evolved from their own pre-industrial craft traditions, ours did not.

  15. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 6, 2007 5:21 pm

    Krenim, wrt the earlier anecdote, would it be right to say that bureaucracies tend to get into an Imperial Rut?

  16. September 6, 2007 5:58 pm

    Nita: Very insightful analysis by you and the commenters. I just had a minor observation: Suburban trains in Mumbai run on broad gauge, yet their width is more than that of long distance trains. You may have noticed that distance between adjacent tracks is greater in Mumbai because the local trains are wider. So, it IS possible to have wider coaches on narrower tracks provided the speed limit is in place and tha proper ratio is maintained (and maybe a bunch of other factors that I don’t know)

  17. September 6, 2007 6:02 pm

    Your observation is correct Priyank!
    From what I have found out from the little research I have done, is that if you have broad gauge tracks you can different width of coaches, sometimes even 6 feet or more. But if you have standard gauge then there are certain limits. The exact specifications I would not venture to give though.

  18. krenim permalink
    September 6, 2007 6:30 pm

    [when the railways themselves feel that broad gauge is better, why is the govt disagreeing? and more important, we are a poor country. we need to make it if possible, make it in India]

    The railways have very little to do with the tube in the UK I am not sure about India could it be a turf war?

    Designing testing and deploying your own design will cost a lot lot more and incidentally what are the number of trains on order ?

    Don’t you think the metros in your country should be independant to seek the best possible rolling stock instead of cross subsidizing a shoddy state owned rolling stock industry?

    [but kickbacks are a normal routine thng here.]

    Come on it couldn’t be! Indians in my opinion are arm chair conspiracy theorists always seeing altier motives and grand conspiracies where they aren’t any. No offence. 🙂

    • Krishna permalink
      April 16, 2016 11:38 pm

      India is overpopulated especially metros.. why would u want smaller coaches??
      Trust me in Delhi u literally cant breathe in a full standard gauge train on violet line, green line and orange line. While there is some relief in broad gauge on yellow line, blue line and red line, thanks to Indian Railways.

  19. September 6, 2007 6:36 pm

    Krenim, no offence taken. 🙂 but to answer your last question first, the kickbacks stories are mostly true. In my opinion 9 out of 10 contracts have kickbacks involved. and i think most political analysts would agree.
    about your other questions, whether we are capable of making a good design or not, well, I believe we can. In fact we have our suburban trains in India (Mumbai) and the coaches are made here. the infrastructure exists already. sure, some design changes will ofcourse be needed. the cost is working out to be Rs 3 crore per coach, that is one third less than the imported one.
    and no, its not a turf war because certain sections in the railways are with the governemnt. its the engineers, the technical people who are against it. A review by the highest technical authorities in the country (btw, IRCON is respected globally) felt that broad gauge is best.

  20. krenim permalink
    September 6, 2007 6:38 pm

    [Krenim, wrt the earlier anecdote, would it be right to say that bureaucracies tend to get into an Imperial Rut?]

    No most countries in the EU and Asia have very strong and effective bueraucracies,Infact the ‘Asian model’ of state led industrialization is effectively led by a massive bueraucracy the pinnacle of which would be Japan’s famed Ministry of International Trade and Industry.

    Its only the anglo saxon world where the bueraucracy has effectively been purged.

    The best place to be a bureaucrat by the way is France more on that later.

  21. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 6, 2007 9:53 pm

    Krenim, I agree about the French bureaucracy. Beats the Indian hands down. Surprising they could not hold on to their Empire as tenaciously as the British did.

    And about Britain I don’t have any recent experience (or, for that matter, any significant experience). But if the kind of portrayals one saw in “Yes Minister” are anything to go by, they still seem to be alive and kicking.

  22. September 6, 2007 11:04 pm

    If you were writing about the US I’d wonder if someone was receiving a kickback in funds for using the standard gauge. Am I being overly cynical?

  23. krenim permalink
    September 7, 2007 1:15 pm

    [Surprising they could not hold on to their Empire as tenaciously as the British did]

    Boy did they try they made Algeria a part the fourth republic and killed 1/8 of the population.

    Yes Minister belongs to another era effectively culled by Thatcher the senior civil service no longer attracts top talent and are payed a pittance and can now be sacked by the minister, a pale shadow of its former self.

  24. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 7, 2007 2:18 pm

    {{ … Boy did they try they made Algeria a part the fourth republic … }}

    Yes, that was indeed a stupid and tragic (for the Algerians) misadventure. A very apt ending to a rather unremarkable colonial career.

    And there was also Suez, when the British, possibly forgetful of changing times, joined them in the sabre-rattling game.

    {{ … the senior civil service no longer attracts top talent and are payed a pittance … }}

    OK. So that means they are now as vulnerable to dubious temptations as ours!!! But ours are not as yet so vulnerable to ministers.

  25. krenim permalink
    September 7, 2007 6:38 pm

    And there was also Suez, when the British, possibly forgetful of changing times, joined them in the sabre-rattling game

    Well we were first offered US nuke cover(neither we nor the french had deployed nukes then) and ike(Eisenhower) sold us down the drain when the USSR threatned us with nukes.

    Anyway a pretty ill thought out operation all the same.

    {OK. So that means they are now as vulnerable to dubious temptations as ours!!! But ours are not as yet so vulnerable to ministers.}

    No not really they just don’t have a significant role here anymore.I mean you bribe to get something done but there is precious little that the SSC can do for anyone anymore.Not sure about the ICS though.

  26. September 7, 2007 7:27 pm

    Will the new carriages have enough chairs?

    Because it looks like there’s some seating issues on the trains.

  27. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 7, 2007 9:17 pm


    It is no longer the ICS. That went with the British. It’s now called IAS — the Indian Administrative Service — and they do a lot more than collecting revenue and delivering justice in the mosfussil areas. And believe me, those who have the ability and the urge are capable of doing a lot of good.

  28. September 8, 2007 3:56 am

    Everyone is intelligent and knows exactly what the problems are
    they just want their cut thats all..
    for the cut or % age – rules, egos, ideals morals etc are forgotten

    Dinesh Mohan of the Business Standard calculates the annual subsidy per passenger at 35,000 Rupees (Rs). This is more than the gross domestic product per capita of the nation, which is approximately Rs 28,500 (See: Dinesh Mohan, “Squandering public funds for a handful of people,” The Business Standard, 7 October 2006).*
    the Kolkata (Calcutta) metro, which carries only 10 percent of its projected ridership is even more of a money spinner
    why ? So some babu somewhere and some politician has got his cut
    and mind u commis are most corrupt people!

  29. V K J Rane/Ex-M.D.IRCON permalink
    September 11, 2007 11:55 am

    V K J RANE
    Glad to read the responses of various readers on the subject. Most of the participants seem to be Non Technical / Non Railway people. The centre to centre distance between the two tracks for BG in Mumbai Suburban as well as for long distance trains is 15 ft 6 inch. Maximum width of a coach on SG is 10 ft 6 inch (3.2m). wider coaches of 12 ft 0 Inch as adopted on Mumbai Suburban section, for capacity considerations are not possible on SG from safety considerations against over turning. It would be interesting to note that in 1930 when the suburban trains were introduced in Mumbai on BG, did have narrow width of coaches viz. 10ft 6 inches. After 30 years when the capacity was required to be increased, wider coaches of 12 ft 0 Inches were designed and adopted on the Mumbai Suburban BG. This was feasible as the tracks were already laid on BG.

    On the propose metro before the work of laying foundation is commenced in October 07 it is necessary in the interest of future additional capacity after 20-25 years, on the Mumbai Metro Section, it is absolutely essential to design the elevated bridge corridor for 18 tonnes axle load, provide 15 ft 6 inches, as centre to centre spacing of two tracks, provide width of the bridge to cater for future, if not immediate, a BG track, so that future wider (12 ft Inches) coaches can be adopted, to meet the future demand, and provide a comfortable travel to our grand children.

    I give bellow a summarized list of points why BG with wider coaches are required to be provided for the proposed elevated Metro, plan for the city from capacity, comfort, safety and other aspects, in the overall interest of commuters and the public.


    1)- CAPACITY—BG with wider coaches provide 15% more capacity there by catering for long term interests of the commuters beyond 25 years as limited in existing planning.

    2) Present max. capacity for SG with narrow coaches as planned is
    —(i) for VAG Corridor—375x6x24= 54000 PPHPD at 2.5 min service
    –(ii) For CBM Corridor—375x8x30= 90 000 PPHPD at 2 m service and
    n FOR BG with wider coaches with 12 coach train at 2 min service I
    n 432x12x30=1,55 520 (with 15% increased capacity with 12 coach train and 2 min service .) This will cater for future Traffic demand for 75 to 100 years. Hence long term public interest.

    3) For a given volume of traffic, the number of BG wider coaches required is less by 15 % min thereby reducing the capital cost for coaches, further reduction in cost of platform length and platform covers and reduction in land cost in depots due to lesser length of rake length. The capital cost will further reduce due to elimination of import costs. This heavy reduction of capital costs will reduce or eliminate Viability Gap Funding there by reducing the passenger fares. Hence public interest.

    4) The capital cost of investment in the project per passenger –km for BG with wider coaches will be less than that for SG with narrow coaches, Hence in long term public interest

    5) The government of Maharashtra has been misguided by DMRC & MMRDA by comparing the absolute costs of BG and SG with identical width of narrow coaches (3.2m). This is fundamentally WRONG in concept and NOT in public interest hence need a review and needs a provision for BG with wider coaches.

    6) There is technically NO difference in structure and operating characteristics between the proposed Metro and the existing Mumbai Suburban System which caters for a HEAVY mass transportation of Mumbai commuters. A duplication of this system will serve the needs of the commuters at less investment and reduced fares and NO VGF grant. Hence in public interest.

    7) More than 35 min of standing travel is NOT comfortable. On 32 km of Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd (CBM) corridor will take more than one hour of standing travel due to less sitting and more standing capacity. A BG corridor with wider coaches will provide better comforts for equivalent capacity. Hence in public interest.

    8. BG with wider coaches provides compatibility with the existing suburban section eliminating cost of duplication of infrastructure of infrastructure maintenance facilities. This would reduce VGF grants and consequent reduction in fare structure. Hence public interest

    9) BG with wider coaches will provide connectivity to the existing system in Navi Mumbai without heavy investment in a NEW bridge across Thane Creek. And provide a few trains at say 10 m service to Belapur utilizing the availability of spare line capacity. And thus cater for the public interests of commuters to and from New Mumbai without ant additional investments in fixed infrastructure.

    10) Compatibility of BG will greatly help in disaster management of the proposed Metro Corridor in emergencies.

    11) MMRDA has misguided the GOVT that Metro rolling stock cannot be run on the existing system . Technology exists in moving rolling stock in different signaling and traction systems.

    12) Terminating the Metro Corridor at the existing Municipal boundaries is NOT in public interest for commuters traveling to and from destinations beyond these boundaries and does NOT confirm to the origin & Destination of traffic demand

    13) Present planning of the SG corridor has NO provision for future increase in capacity for adoption of BG with wider coaches without dismantling the entire concrete structure of the elevated corridor. Such planning is NOT in the national and public interest .

    14) DMRC & MMRDA have misguided the GOVT & the public, that they are providing the best in the world technology for Mumbai Metro. The 21st century Best in the world technology has been provided on BG Metro by BART in San Francisco in USA. Thus Technology is independent of Gauge.

    15) Metro will NOT permit DABBEWALLAS to utilize the Metro to travel. This is against the public interest.

    16) DMRC and MMRDA have misguided the GOVT of Maharashtra the BG cannot negotiate the 100 m curves. Member engineering has clarified that technology exists for BG passenger train corridor to negotiate 100 m curves and follow the same alignment as that adopted by SG.

    17) For a given volume of traffic, the land required for depot is less due to reduction in the length of train due to increased capacity of wider coaches. This reduction in capital cost will reduce VGF grant and hence the fare structure in public interest.

    18] The planning of the corridor layout, curves, grades, station locations is defective, deficient, unsafe, uncomfortable, and uneconomical from technical angle and hence NOT in the larger interest of the public from safety, economy and comfort considerations.

    19) Delhi Metro has constructed the corridor at 100 crores per km for identical standards and specifications. Mumbai corridor is being constructed at Rs 204 crores per km in addition to a VGF grant of Rs 650 crores. This results in higher fare structures and therefore against the public interest

    20) The price for imported coaches of the bidder is Rs 9 crores per coach involving procurement of 108 coaches for VAG corridor, while those procured by Delhi Metro was Rs 4.5 crores per coach and that arranged by MUTP for Mumbai suburban section is Rs 3 crores per coach. This abnormally high cost accepted by MMRDA is NOT in public interest .This would increase the fare structure abnormally high.

    21) Provision of ATC and ATO system of signaling right from the beginning is NOT required for the level of frequency required for the traffic demand. This may be required after 20 years . This initial investment is NOT required . This has resulted in increased VGF grant and therefore the public fare. This planning is NOT in the interest of the public.

    22) Operation and Maintenance cost of BG with wider coaches will be considerably less for a given volume of traffic due to less number of coaches per train with less energy consumption and less maintenance costs. This would improve the IRR needing less VGF grant and consequent reduction in fare structure in public interest.

    23) DMRC and MMRDA predetermined the adoption of SG with narrow coaches to help International vendors and consultants against the advice of the Indian Railways and are now trying to justify the same by giving factually wrong and false and illogical reasoning and the same is being accepted by the GOVT of Maharashtra for reasons NOT acceptable to a common man and technical experts in the field and are NOT in the national ,commuters and public interest. Even the DPR for CBM corridor has been kept a secret from the public. This non transparency shows that there is more to hide than to reveal.

    24) from legal considerations also the state govt is transgressing their legal jurisdiction by constructing the corridor under tramways act by treating the Metro corridor as a tramway. This is against the constitutional provisions Art. 366/20 and art 246 of the constitution.( as amplified earlier.)


  30. September 11, 2007 12:17 pm

    Again, thanks for coming here Mr. Rane. I hope this has answered some of the doubts of the commentators.

  31. V K J Rane/Ex-M.D.IRCON permalink
    September 14, 2007 11:06 am

    From VKJ RANE
    The first battle of Track Gauges was fought for a long period of 7 years ending 1850 during the time of Lord Dalhousie the British Governor General of India, who decided in favour of Broad Gauge (5’-6”)Track for Indian Railway System even though the British rail had adopted a Standard Gauge (4’-8.5”) in U.K. He did not allow the British commercial interests to over ride the justified needs of India and its people. His vision and decision for the long term requirements of India has proved right, that for a country like India with large population and faster rate of growth, it needed wider gauge to carry its volume of traffic in wider coaches and longer trains and that the conditions in U.K., Europe or any other developed country, could not be compared to suit Indian conditions. The wisdom of his vision is seen even after 150 years, when we see the Indian Rly carry passengers at inhuman crush capacity and at times even on roof tops in certain areas,
    FACTS the public should know, how our govt including the centre have been misguided in providing wrong facts to non technical bureaucrats.
    -BG can also achieve 2 min frequency as for SG. Hence the statement that the capacity of SG will be increased by improving the frequency to 2 m is wrong.
    -It is stated that METRO is only elevated or Underground. This is wrong. Metro can be on the ground also..
    –It is stated that Metro can only be on SG .This is again wrong. Metro can be on any gauge, BG, SG MG or any other gauge.
    -It is stated that the best in the world technology is being provided for Mumbai Metro, Hence the need for SG. The best in the world 21st century has been provided in USA by BART on B G, in the year 2003 on additional safety considerations over SG.
    __ Technology is independent of gauge.
    –Cost should be compared NOT on ABSOLUTE basis but on COST PER UNIT OF PASSENGER -KM. This reduces the fare for passengers.. BG with wider coaches provides 25 % more capacity. Hence the cost..
    –Alternative bids invited by MMRDA deliberately did NOT include BG with wider coaches. MMRDA owe an explanation to the public. Even the proposed Charkop-Banra-Mankhurd corridor for which the bids are under process have NOT provided for alternative bids for BG with Wider coaches. If this is done, Bids for BG will be 20% lower than that for SG.
    — KAPURTALA COACH Factory had offered to Reliance to supply coaches to the standards specified at competitive prices. But their International JV advisors were NOT interested in procurement from India.
    –For a GIVEN VOLUME OF TRAFFIC< the length of the train is reduced by around 20%. This reduces the cost of land required lengthwise for DEPOTS and also for platform length and platform covers. Hence the economy and fare reduction for public. Public has been misguided on this issue as well.
    –BG enables compatibility and connectivity with the existing MUMBAI suburban Metro and apart from provision of comfort to commuters would reduce capital investment in duplication of common infrastructure costs and hence the reduction in fare..
    –BG would have enabled extension of trains to Belapur & Panvel without the need for the construction of a separate bridge across Thane Creek.
    — Will the Chief MINISTER of Maharashtra answer the above para wise and convince the public that the Metro they are proposing in Mumbai is in PUBLIC INTEREST, apart from being illegal under Metro act and under the constitution.
    V K J Rane

  32. BARNABAS permalink
    October 11, 2007 6:46 am


  33. V K J Rane/Ex-M.D.IRCON permalink
    December 31, 2007 1:33 pm

    Dear Mrs. Nita Kulkarni,

    Subsequent to my comments on the Review of gauge for Mumbai Metro dated 19th Sept 07. I would like to enclose a copy of my article published in Projects Monitor dated 5th Nov 07, I would also further add my critical comments on together with a copy of press cutting in economic times dated 18 Dec 07 on the subject Centre to frame regulations for metro projects.

    1. Project Monitor Article
    2. Economic Times Press Cutting
    3. Comments Economic Times Press Cutting


    V.K.J. Rane, former managing director of Ircon International Ltd, a public sector enterprise, calls for a review of the decision to adopt standard gauge instead of broad gauge for the proposed Mumbai Metro.

    The Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, has communicated to the Maharashtra government that the choice of gauge (for Mumbai Metro) being a techno-economic parameter is left to the concerned state government to decide.
    The state government decided to adopt SG for its stand-alone VAG corridor on the basis of additional project cost, additional land requirement and other areas like sharp curves etc.
    The above decision needs a review from technical, economic and legal considerations as the same was based on wrong technical assumptions and misguided directions by their technical advisors.
    Merits of adoption of wider coaches (3.66m) on BG were not compared with narrow width of coaches (3.20m) for SG.

    Need for review
    There is no difference in structure and operation between the proposed metro on SG and the Mumbai suburban railway system.
    Adoption of wider coaches justifies the need for BG from safety, comfort, economic and legal considerations; provides an increased capacity by around 25 per cent; and will conform to the provisions of the constitution.

    BG system provides compatibility with the existing BG system in Mumbai, thereby eliminating duplication of infrastructure cost for commuter movement, maintenance facilities and reduction in land for these facilities. This reduces the capital cost and viability gap funding with consequent reduction in fares (public interest).
    Adoption of SG involves inconveniences to commuters due to physical interchange between the two systems (ground level to elevated level – bad planning and public interest).

    BG provides connectivity to the existing Mumbai BG suburban section, avoiding physical interchange of passengers (inconvenience to commuters and public interest).
    Advice of consultants that the proposed metro cannot adapt to the existing BG system due to signalling and tractions etc. This is technically wrong as technology exists to permit rolling stock to travel along different traction and signalling systems (bad planning and avoidable heavy investments – not in public interest).
    Adoption of BG would permit extension of metro services from Mankhurd to Panvel and to the new airport thereby avoiding heavy capital investment for a separate line in Navi Mumbai and a separate bridge across Thane creek (not in public interest).
    Standalone corridor: The consultants have misguided the state government on this subject and the latest trend internationally is to provide an integrated system with the mainline system.

    The proposed SG corridor has been designed to cater to a crush capacity traffic demand for the next 25 years only, with no provision for future increasing capacity either by way of increased frequency, increased length of the train or increased width of the coaches. In fact, there is a deliberate attempt to ensure that in future the system cannot adopt wider coaches for future conversion to BG, by ensuring restricted spacing between two tracks, thereby necessitating complete dismantling of RCC elevated bridge structure for future conversion to BG (This is poor planning and vision and against the interest of future generation – not in public interest).
    When asked as to how would he cater to additional traffic demand after 25 years, the reply was, another road would be selected to provide an additional elevated corridor after 25 years (not in public interest).
    With the state government’s dreams of converting Mumbai on Shanghai pattern by constructing tall buildings with concentrated pockets of high density population and the accelerated rate of growth of commuters in the city of Mumbai, the present system will get saturated within 15 to 20 years (Mumbai needs HMRTS and not MRTS).
    BG with longer trains (12-coach train) can be designed to adopt two-minute frequency identical to that planned for the proposed metro. It is, therefore, essential to design the metro system on BG with wider and longer coaches (10 to 12 coaches per train) to meet future traffic demands for the next 100 years.
    The best in the world technology for metro has been adopted by BART USA metro since 2003 and is being further extended on BG only. Induction of technology does not justify the wholesale procurement of the entire asset, as technology is independent of gauge.

    Dabbawallas and vegetable vendors
    These commuters will not be permitted to travel on the proposed metro as coaches are not designed for the same. The present planning is not in public interest (nowhere in the world is metro system designed for dabbawallas and vegetable vendors)

    100m sharp curves
    The ministry of railways, the highest technical authority on the subject, communicated to the state government that proven technology exists to design BG coaches to negotiate 100m sharp curves and follow the same alignment as that adopted for SG, without the need for dismantling adjoining buildings and additional acquisition of land as apprehended by the state government. This has been overruled by the state government without discussions with the railways (the public has been misguided).

    Land requirement
    As this is an elevated corridor no additional land is required along the route as the same size of substructure can be adopted as that for SG at the ground level.
    For a given volume of traffic, adoption of wider coaches will need less number of coaches per train, thereby resulting in reduction in land acquisition of depot due to reduction in the length of the train and will further effect savings in the length of the platform and platform covers (public interest).

    Savings in import cost
    Adoption of BG will involve in heavy reduction of import costs, royalty payments on technologies and long-term dependency for imports of spares and replacement of assets and initial training costs (public interest).

    Comfort to commuters
    Nowhere in the world is a metro coach designed for standing capacity of 87 per cent. More than 35 minutes of travelling in standing position will cause discomfort and fatigue to passengers (Charkop-Mankhurd-Bandra corridor will need 60 minute travel for 32 km in standing position).

    Economic considerations
    The accepted price for VAG corridor is Rs 200 crore per km as against Delhi Metro of Rs 100 crore per km (not in public interest).
    The price has been inflated by the bidder by around Rs 600 crore (not in public interest).

    VG funding of Rs 650 crore is not justifiable and is inflated by around Rs 300 crore (not in public interest).
    The coach price has been inflated to Rs 9 crore per coach as against MUTP’s price of Rs 2.2 crore per coach (though for marginally different specifications which are not considered essential for operations at frequencies and speeds) (not in public interest).
    Adoption of ATC and ATO signalling from the beginning, not required for traffic demand till the next 20 years (necessitating replacement of 70 per cent after 16 years) has resulted in heavy initial capital investment, necessitating increased VG funding (not in public interest).
    12.6 The cost of BG with wider coaches would be less by around 20% if the cost per passenger km is compared instead of the comparing absolute cost. (not in public interest)

    Legal considerations
    By classifying metro as a tramway and not comparing it with the Mumbai suburban section and harbour branch system, the constitutional provision under article 366/20 and article 246 (7th scheduled) have been grossly violated, making the entire proposal void under article 254.
    The opinion of attorney general on the subject has not been vetted by the ministry of law at the Centre.

    The proposed metro under construction and as planned is against the provision of the present constitution and can be declared void under article 254 of the Constitution and the opinion of the Supreme Court on the subject needs to be taken at the earliest.

    A provision should be done in the present planning, to adopt wider coaches at a later stage, by adoption of BG track and designing structures for BG loading and standards in the overall interest of the public and future generations.
    A review of the present decision is of immediate importance in public interest and to comply with the constitutional provisions.

    [05 November 2007]



    18 Dec, 2007, 0333 hrs IST,Rajat Guha, TNN

    The success of Delhi Metro is expected to be replicated over half-a-dozen mega cities in the country. The Tamil Nadu government has announced an investment of about Rs 10,000 crore on Chennai Metro rail project; Mumbai is already implementing the Rs 2,232-crore Versova-Ghatkopar corridor. Bangalore is all set to have one. Hyderabad is also contemplating a mass-rapid transport system.

    Implementation of metro projects requires huge investments. States are not in a position to fund the project without financial support form the Centre and other multilateral agencies. States need to have a policy framework to attract investors. Keeping this in mind, the Centre is framing a model regulation for Metro projects.

    “Since Delhi Metro O&M Act was originally framed for Delhi, it is proposed to amend the Act in such a way so as to bring development of real estate and other construct activities under its fold and also to dovetail the other guided urban transit systems like monorail, skybus and high speed rails,” urban development secretary M Ramachandran said.

    Soon Metro rail systems across the country would get a legal cover for operation, maintenance and corridor extensions. The Centre is amending the Delhi Metro (O&M) Act, 2002, to cover development, construction, operation and maintenance of Metro railways in any metropolitan area. It would give legal sanctity to Metro rail in cases when corridor is extended beyond municipal limits.

    As the Metro rail is different from railways in terms of tracks, operation, signalling and coaches, the Centre has decided to go in for a separate Act for Metro rails.

    Mr Ramachandran said that while drafting model legislation, in consultation with states, it was noticed that Metro rails in many cases would be extending beyond municipal areas also and in cases like Delhi beyond one state, thereby necessitating a central legislation instead of state-level legislation. The Act will also have provisions for allowing privately-owned and operated Metro rail systems.

    Experts are of the view that legislation would give a comfort zone to upcoming private players who already face great risk in terms of investment. “If the government frames such legislation, country’s Metro projects would attract a lot of foreign investors who go by the credibility of the project and there is no credibility greater than a legal cover,” KPMG infrastructure head Arvind Mahajan said.

    The Act, which is awaiting the Cabinet’s approval, envisages special regulatory commission on the lines of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. It would oversee the establishment of Metro rail projects in the country. The new body would monitor whether safety norms are in place and whether necessary certification norms are adhered to at every stage of the project. The new body will have Metro Rail Safety Commissioner on the lines of the Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety (CCRS).

    “Safety certification is a must at each stage of Metro rail projects since thousands of people would be using the public transport system,” an urban development ministry official said.

    According to officials, Metro rail safety body would have a chairman, an official from the urban development ministry, representatives from various states going in for Metro rail systems and representatives from the civil aviation ministry. At each stage of the mass-rapid transit system, contractors would have to get certification from CCRS. The committee has gone through all Metro rail Acts available in the world apart from the Indian Railways Act and Tramways Act to frame the policy.

    In the policy, importance is given to the Delhi Metro project, which has become model for all future development. It further empowers Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.

    “The new Bill would empower DMRC to construct Metro beyond city limits. Our extension programmes to Noida, Gurgaon, Faridabad and Bahadurgarh would thus get the legal cover. Right now, the Delhi Metro Act is valid in Delhi only,” Delhi Metro director (operations) M Singh said.

    According to the government sources, it is also understood that the Cabinet would positively consider the proposed legislation in the wake of the urgency to complete the extension of Delhi Metro to Gurgaon and Noida before the Commonwealth Games, 2010.

    3) I would like to express my critical observations on some of the points mentioned therein on the above subject.

    1. Mr. M. Ramchandran Sec. Urban Development Ministry at the center, has mentioned that, they proposed to amend Delhi Metro O & M Act to cover real estate and other construction activities and also dovetail other guided urban transit systems like Monorail, Skybus, High Speed Rails, etc, so as to provide a legal cover for such operations, and also make provisions for extension of such corridors, beyond Municipal limits.

    2. The above statement indicate that, the present instructions issued by the urban ministry to the states, vide their letter no 14011/1/2005-Metro dated 26th April 2006, does not have a legal cover under the constitution, to construct and operate & maintain, such MRTS railway corridors, by the states, under the Indian Tramways Act 1886.

    3. Before the ministry, make such acts, it would be necessary for the parliament to issue modification to article 366(20) to exclude Metro railways, Monorails, Sky Bus and high speed trains, outside the definition of “Railways”, as provided in the present constitution. The constitution will have to be amended further to provide legal jurisdiction to the state, by making changes in the art. 246 – VII th schedule – central list and state list.

    4. It was interesting to read in the press cutting, that the “Metro Rail is different from railways in terms of tracks, operation, signaling and coaches.” This statement is misguiding. There is no difference in structure and operations of the fixed and mobile assets and operation technology, between the metro railway, as proposed and the Mumbai suburban section of the Western & Central railways, under operation and further extensions being carried out by MRVC Mumbai, under Indian railways act implemented under the ministry of railways.

    5. The technical and legal competency to decide, this issue mentioned under Para –4 above, is that of the Indian railways. The urban ministry at the center, as well as the states, at present, does not have technical competency and legal jurisdiction, under the present constitution.

    6. The above exercise is being done, against the directives and involvement of the Indian railways, with the sole objective of inducting, “SG in the country” by taking advice of international vendors, manufactures, consultants and operators, at exorbitantly heavy investments, creating a long term dependency on overseas suppliers of technology and providing a limited crush capacity corridors, restricted to 25 years of traffic demand without any provision for future expansion of wider coaches (12ft 0inches), as have been utilized on the Mumbai suburban section. This shortsighted policy of the urban ministry, deliberately adopted to keep Indian railways outside the loop, is not in public interest of the commuters, as well as against the national interest.

    7. The same technology, justified on the basis of “Best in the world”, can also be adopted on BG, capable of carrying wider coaches, as has been introduced in BART metro system, at San Francisco in USA on BG in the 21st century and is being continued further on BG even though they have SG for their main line systems. This systems on BG has alignment negotiating 120m radius curvature (same as for SG). The urban ministry should know that the high speed main line systems in Spain is also on BG. The technology is independent of gauge, the benefit of the Indian railways 150 years of experience and expertise, must be taken by the urban ministry, to provide future railway systems within the country, in national interest.

    8. Will the Indian railways, Urban Ministry at the center and at the state level particularly in Maharashtra, the planning commission, the Finance Ministry, and the Prime Minister, review their earlier decisions, to provide limited capacity corridors, in country like ours, where the traffic demand, present and future, cannot be compared with those of the European systems. It should be remembered, that the volume of computer operated reservation system for Delhi station only, was equal to that, for the entire German railways. It should be further remembered that India’s populations added every year is more than that of the entire population of Australia.

    9. The cost of BG with wider coaches, if compared on the basis their unit carrying capacity, is around 20% less than that of SG with narrow width of coaches. The operation and maintenance cost of such a BG systems would also be 20% less, due to lesser number of coaches per train, required to carry the same volume of traffic.

    10. What is good, for European countries in the world, is not necessarily suited to the Indian requirements. In the year 1930 when the suburban section in Mumbai was introduced, with restricted width of coaches (10ft 6inches wide) on BG, wider coaches of 12ft 6inches width, were introduced by Indian railways in the year 1960, to accommodate increased traffic demand. This was possible, because the tracks were already laid on BG.

    11. Thanks to the vision of Lord Dalhousie, the then British Governor General of India, who fought with British Government, the battle of track gauges, for a long period of 7 years, ending 1850 and decided in favour of BG track for Indian railways systems, even though, the British rail had insisted for SG, for their commercial interests, thus fulfilling the justified needs of India and its people. The wisdom of his vision is seen even after 150 years, when we see the Indian railways, carry passengers, at in human crush capacity and at times even of roof tops in certain areas, today.

    12. The planners, of this country should ensure to provide, a comfortable system to children and grand children of this country. There is an urgent need for the technical experts of the Indian railways, the legal experts, the planning experts and the financial experts in the government as well as in the public, under the leadership of The Prime Minster and the heads of the political parties to review the decision on the subject of adoption of wider coaches or future provision of wider coaches on BG and take a final decision recording their justification, for the benefit of the public and future generations.

    Thanking You

    Yours truly,

    V K J Rane

  34. B.P.Bansal permalink
    March 27, 2008 6:55 am

    Dear sir,

    I have been working on some innovative design of MRTS. I am reasonable sure that my system is far, far better than all the prevalent ones in every respect, be it capacity, cost, comfort, manpower, complexity, speed of implementation, maintenance, running cost etc. In fact, it should be ten times better. But I have one reservation. I am not a railway engineer, I have depended for minimum turning radius on the formula;

    R= 2hu*/gd ; R- Turning radius, h- Centre of gravity height, g- 10mtr/sec/sec, d- Wheel gauge

    leaving aside size of coach and super elevation of outer rail.

    As per the above formula; an increase in gauge should reduce the turning radius where as as per discussion going on, increase in gauge is said to cause increase in turning radius.

    Will you please be kind enough to explain the anomaly.

    Thanking you

    Yours truly


  35. B.P.Bansal permalink
    March 27, 2008 6:58 am


    In the formula , * =2

  36. Paul permalink
    May 21, 2008 2:10 pm

    Germany offers black money data, India dithers
    Investigators in India might have their best chance yet to trace those Indians who have stashed away millions in the tiny tax haven of Liechtenstein, a small landlocked country between Austria and Switzerland, provided the Manmohan Singh government asks for the information on offer.
    Finland and Ireland have already used the opportunity to zero in on their citizens who have evaded taxes and smuggled their wealth to the principality, the sixth-smallest country in the world. But Transparency International says India has maintained ‘a stoic silence over the issue and has not approached the German government for this data’.

    Expressing concern over the Indian government’s apparently lackadaisical attitude in getting after offenders who have cheated the tax authorities of millions of dollars is quite surprising and the Indian chapter of TI – an organization campaigning to reduce corruption – has urged the government to take all necessary steps to seek the data.

    Admiral R H Tahiliani, chairman if TI India and a former navy chief, said: ‘‘This money belongs to the people of India and it is possible that it has been tucked away in this distant country by those who have acquired it illegally and are now evading taxes.

    I read this in the newspaper today. I have no doubt that the govt. ministers are involved and therefore do not want the data! Our politicians are the biggest thieves and anti-national – Nita.

  37. Pratap Srivastava permalink
    June 1, 2008 1:34 pm

    Dear Sri B P Bansal,

    Please refer to your query made on 27-3-08.

    The formula mentioned determines the sharpest curve permissible with operations at a specified maximum speed. It takes into account the propensity of the coach to be thrown out by overturning about the outer rail under the influence of centrifugal forces. Super-elevation of the outer rail however strongly influences these conclusions. While this throw-over is an important consideration, it does not examine the geometrical considerations involved in allowing the coach to negotiate a given curve.

    During curve negotiation, it has to be ensured that all wheel flanges remain inside the two rails at all times. One has to look at bogie wheelbases, lateral clearances at each wheel along with the gauge tolerances to see that the wheels are not geometrically constrained to ride over the rails at any time. This basic requirement has been discussed in the previous postings, and Sri Rane has very ably explained about the suitability of both broad and standard gauges.

    Hoping that this clarifies the doubt.

    Yours truly,

    Pratap Srivastava

  38. September 15, 2009 6:17 am

    Krenim, as far as I see it, its a question of strong suspicions of corruption. The coaches are imported. 9 crore (thats an additional zero after million) for one coach is a lot!

  39. nitin khanna permalink
    January 21, 2010 7:08 pm

    Mr Shreedharan is the man who has put his money where his mouth is. He has provided Delhi with a metro which is comparable to the best in the world. He has done so ahead of schedule. Also Mr Shreedhrans personal integrity is beyond reproach. As far as his technical qualifications are concerned he retired as member (engeneering) railway board. So when he says that standard gauges are better it means something. As for the Indian railways name me one train which is even half as good in terms of quality as the delhi metro. Yes if you want a metro with a coach similar to that of the jhelum express by all means buy the coach for 2 crores whose design would qualify as jurassic. What amazes me is that if the railways are so adamant why havnt they made a prototype of a coach they want to sell us for the metro? my hunch is that placed in front of the imported coaches it will pale in comparison.

  40. Rohit permalink
    February 20, 2012 3:20 am

    I agree with Nitin’s view ‘So when he says that standard gauges are better it means something.’ If Mr. Sreedharan is has such a strong opinion on choosing Standard Gauge there should be a very valid reason for it. Remember hes the man with over 50 years of experience in Railways and above all a proven track record of successful implementation of Railway projects(Konkan Railway, Pamban Bridge) in Bureaucratic India.
    Min of Railways though few of them might have 30-40 years of experience, their implementation track record would be nothing to be proud of(see the sad state of Indian Railways) and nowhere near to that of Mr Sreedharan. They just found a reason to throw in a spanner in the works because they couldn’t claim laurels for the Good work done by the Delhi Metro team.
    I guess the reasons for Mr Sreedharan choosing the Std Guage was it gives us a better buying power in the global markets of rail coaches which are pre-dominantly in SG. If we want a vendor to provide a Broad Gauge coach the cost would just multiply considering the customization he has to do with his Factory assembly line which is suited for the more popular SG. In fact many vendors wouldnt even care to submit a bid considering the enormous capital they would have invest at their end to change their assembly lines from BG to SG just for one customer. Thus going for a SG coach seems to be the best as we have large choice of vendors and better bargaining power!
    And thankfully Min of Railways didn’t think of manufacturing the Metro coaches otherwise we would have been saddled with the primitive design, unsafe & poor quality coaches for our Metros. I dont think they would have been any cheaper considering the inefficiencies in the Govt Coach factories, kickbacks from local vendors, poor quality would have meant the lifespan of the coaches would have been much lesser in the high footfall Metro transit (just have a look at the current coaches of Indian Railways being produced by ICF & other govt firms- they are nowhere near to world standards, even when compared to other 3rd world countries they fall short) & I am sure with them as the supplier we would have never got the Delhi Metro on time. Compared to that the coaches from Bombardier & Mitsubishi which are built locally in India will be much cheaper, better quality & meets the delivery deadline, so the cost argument cited doesn’t hold good at all.

    Glad to see that good sense prevailed in Mumbai & Bangalore Metro who are going for SG. If only we had few more Sreedharan’s to complete these projects on time!

  41. October 26, 2015 12:50 pm

    I want to present a seminar on controversies over rail gauges in India & world. Would any one of u plz guide me with some brief info for accomplishing this seminar purely for my university purpose
    my gmail is-

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