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Interview with A.A. Bhatt, Director, Systems, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited

August 29, 2016

Interview with A.A. Bhatt, Director, Sys...
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) is a rapid transit system that aims to improve the transportation situation in Mumbai, one of the busiest cities in India.

A.A. Bhatt, Director, Systems, Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited, talks about the role of technology in the transportation industry, MMRCL’s IT set-up, as well as its ongoing and planned IT initiatives...

What are the key areas within the transportation industry that see the maximum utilisation of information and communication (ICT) solutions?

The demand for metropolitan rail services is growing rapidly as metro rail is considered one of the most energy-efficient modes of transport. However, running rail networks entails numerous challenges as rail operators need to deal with the complexity of rail networks, while maintaining services, and ensuring customer and staff safety. Moreover, all these requirements need to be fulfilled at a reasonable cost. ICT solutions allow rail operators to achieve reliable communication at a lower cost by using standard and innovative technology solutions that can deliver greater efficiency. Beside, on-board telecommunications and content services generate significant revenue streams and increase passenger satisfaction. Railway infrastructure is seen as an ecosystem. Metro rails systems are increasingly adopting the intelligent infrastructure concept that allows predictive asset management and uses data to automate the operations of rail infrastructure.

Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation is currently implementing Line 3 of the Mumbai metro project (Metro-3), for which it is planning to undertake the following innovative and intelligent ICT systems:

• Signalling using radio communications-based train control platform screen doors

• Automatic fare collection system

• Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems

• Programmable logic controllers

• Building management system

Besides, other ICT solutions are being considered for office administration, as well as for safety and security purposes.

In addition, we are planning to deploy the following IP-based telecommunication systems for Metro-3:

• Fibre optic transmission system

• Time distribution system

• Telephone system

• Voice recording system

• Closed-circuit television system

• Passenger information display system

• Public address systems

• Radio system

• Video transmission system

IT security is very important from a network reliability perspective, as any network breach can cause grave consequences on train safety and operations. IT security is important for protecting services such as ticketing from abuse. In this regard, we plan to deploy ACIDS (access control and intrusion detection system) for internal security.

What are the key challenges that enterprises in the transportation industry face with regard to managing their IT and telecom infrastructure?

• Technology development is increasing the complexity of the existing systems, thus creating roadblocks for further technology adoption.

• Managing multiple vendors for infrastructure solutions.

• Increased management and overhead costs, which may offset the benefits of new technology deployments.

• Development of knowledge and skills in urban mass transit networks.

• Extensive use of IT to ensure the good health of the urban mass transit network operations and implement sustainable development measures.

• Establishing management information systems for effective and efficient network operations, better security and safety management and handling of disasters/crisis situations.

• Reliable and cost-efficient wireless networks in underground metro operations.

What are some of the enterprise and mobility solutions that your company is using? How have these helped in enhancing business operations?

In Metro-3, we plan to:

• Offer mobility solutions such as 2G/3G/4G mobile services for voice, data and video streaming to customers

• Extend Wi-Fi connectivity in underground metro stations

• Lease spare dark optic fibre and collaborate with service providers for exploring new commercial non-fare box revenue generation opportunities.

What is the level of adoption of technologies such as cloud, IoT and big data analytics in the Indian transportation industry? Is your company using/planning to use any of these technologies?

The company is exploring state-of-art next generation technologies that are cloud, internet of things (IoT) and big data analytics compliant in Metro-3. For the electro-mechanical systems, Metro-3 is exploring the possibility to use the latest SCADA systems that are IoT-ready so that data can be made available for analysis and decision-making at strategic locations as well as to the key managers.

How critical has online/mobile presence become for enterprises in this industry? How is this phenomenon likely to change industry dynamics?

Online/mobile tools will be quite critical for creating a social media presence for the customers as well as for the operations of Metro-3, which will cover the key locations of Mumbai on its 33.5 km long fully underground corridor. 

Note: Metro-3 is currently in the planning stage. As such, the above measures are tentative.


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