Approximately two months after tunneling work began on the 6 km Agra Metro Projects’ priority corridor, the first breakthrough has been made. Yamuna, one of the two tunnel boring machines (TBM) working on the corridor made the breakthrough at Agra Fort Metro Station.
With a length of 85 meters and weight of 450 tons, the TBM completed the 440-meter-long tunnel connecting the upcoming underground Jama Masjid and Agra Fort metro stations. This achievement is the fastest ever to be achieved in any metro project in India.
The second TBM, Ganga, has reportedly dug up a more than 100m long tunnel. According to the project officials, the two machines are keeping a safe distance between them as a safety procedure.
An overview of the project
The Agra Metro project is a rapid transit network in Agra, the fourth largest city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The project’s feasibility study was conducted in 2019 and its construction was approved in 2019. The project consists of 30 kilometers of two metro lines.
Construction of the Agra Metro project is expected to cost $47.5 million. The project will include 2 corridors passing through the city and will connect to prominent tourist sites like Sikandra, Agra Fort, and the Taj Mahal. The line will also connect to Agra Cantonment railway station, Raja Ki Mandi railway station, Medical College, Collectorate, and Sanjay Place.
The first part will be the 14 km Sikandra to Taj East Gate corridor will have some elevated sections as well as underground sections. This corridor will have a total of 13 stations. Another corridor will run for 15.4 km from Agra Cantt to Kalindi Vihar and will have 14 stations. This line will be elevated. The entire project is expected to cost ₹8,379.62 crores and will be completed in the next five years.
The Agra Metro Rail Project is expected to, directly and indirectly, benefit around 20 lakh population both at the time of commencement and also during operations. The proposed railway line will have Multimodal Integration with Railway Stations & BRTS Stations and will be served by Non-Motorized Transport (NMT) and Intermediate Public Transport (IPT).
The Agra Metro Rail Project will have Value Capture Financing (VCF) and non-fare box revenue from rental & advertisement through Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) and Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). The project is expected to start operations in 2022. Below is a detailed timeline of the project;
- 2016- In July 2016, a Detailed Project Report for the Agra Metro Rail Project was submitted to the state government for approval.
- 2017- The state government rejected the initial DPR as it did not conform with the new Metro Rail Policy 2017 that had been introduced recently.
- 2019- In February 2019, the UP government set aside ₹175 crores to start preliminary work. The project was granted approval by the Union Government every month and a foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March of the same year.
- In June this year, TYPSA – Italferr JV was awarded the contract to be the General Consultant for the railway project.
The first phase of India’s first bullet train construction inaugurated
The first construction phase of the Agra Metro project, India’s first bullet train project, in Uttar Pradesh, was officially inaugurated virtually by the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
According to an official press release by the government, the Agra Metro project will be comprised of two corridors that combine to make a total length of 29.4 km and will aid in connecting tourists to major tourist attraction sites such as the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Sikandra with railway stations and bus stands.
The project will not only benefit the 2.6 million population in Agra, but it will also cater to over 6 million tourists who visit Agra every year. It will also provide an environment-friendly mass rapid transit system to Agra.
India’s first bullet train will cover 1 kilometer in two minutes. Thus, the distance between Sikandra and Taj East Gate will be shortened to just under 30 minutes, and traveling from Agra Cantt to Kalindi Vihar will be shortened to just over half an hour whereas it would have taken an hour to travel to both places by road.
Also noteworthy in the construction is the equipment that will be used for the alignment of the project. Alignment is crucial as the project will cover mixed terrains including densely populated urban and rural areas, highways, roads, rivers, and green fields.
According to the National High-Speed Rail Corporation Ltd (NHSRCL), Light Detection and Ranging Survey (LiDAR) technique using laser-enabled equipment mounted on a helicopter for a ground survey.
Agra Metro Rail: TBM to be launched for the construction of the underground station in Ramlila Maidan
A Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) is set to be launched soon for the construction of one of the seven underground stations for the Agra Metro Rail Project. The construction site is located in Ramlila Maidan near the crossover section.
According to the managing director, of Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation (UPMRC) Sushil Kumar, the TBM machine will operate in an automated mode. This he said “is quite interesting, as the machine operates several feet deep into the ground and there is little room for any error or discrepancies.
The public relations office for UPMRC explained that the route is automatically set beforehand by entering the location’s coordinates. The TBM, therefore, follows that route. “While its cutter head moves forward cutting the debris and initiating the movement,” the office noted “the last part of the TBM (the ring erector), erects ring segments in a circular motion making a tunnel.
This entire process is all the more enjoyable. This is because there is only one window for launching the TBM, which is the launch shaft at the beginning and the retrieval shaft at the end. In between, the movement of the TBM has to be ensured with utmost accuracy.”
The 215-323 TBM, one of the machines to be utilized in the 29.40 km Agra Metro Phase 1 project
The TBM in question is one of the 2 machines being refurbished by Robbins for underground Package AGCC-02 of the 29.40 km Agra Metro Phase 1 project. This Ø6.52m Earth Pressure Balance TBM had earlier been deployed by CEC-CICI JV to build Jaipur Metro Phase 1 project. Especially the 2.35 km Package UG-1B between Chandpole and Badi Chaupar stations.
The project’s final breakthrough was achieved back in July 2017 following which the machine was brought to Robbins’ yard in Gurgaon’s Sector 74 for refurbishment. In late October Robbins completed factory acceptance tests (FAT).
In Agra, this machine along with the other refurbished TBM will be deployed to build 14.25 km Line-1’s 7.93 km RBS College Ramp – Taj Mahal Ramp section. The machines will be deployed by Afcons Infrastructure – Sam India JV under a 48-month contract awarded by Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation (UPMRC) in March 2022.
The sections under this contract, from chainage 3630.000 to 11564.485, consist of twin tunnels connecting 7 stations. The stations are situated at the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Jama Masjid, SN Medical College, Agra College, Raja ki Mandi, and RBS College. Construction on the underground section was launched back in April this year at Agra Fort.
More funds allocated for the implementation of the Agra Metro project in India
In the 2023-24 financial year, the Yogi Adityanath govt has made a budgetary allocation of Rs 465 crore for the Agra Metro project. This is a part of the Uttar Pradesh government’s big push for the ongoing metro projects in the state.
Moreover, during the Global Investors Summit (GIS) at Lucknow, the European Investment Bank (EIB) expressed its willingness to extend its association with the Uttar Pradesh Metro Rail Corporation (UPMRC). As a result, the lending arm of the European Union (EU) has increased its investment from the existing 1.5 billion Euro to 3 billion Euro.
Progress of the Agra Metro project this far
The implementation of the Agra Metro project is well on course. Currently, the project is being executed on the first corridor that runs from Taj East Gate to Sikandara. This corridor comprises a total of 13 stations.
The civil works have already been completed for the 3 km-long elevated stretch of the Priority Corridor that is 6 km long. Stretching between Taj East Gate and Jama Masjid the corridor comprises 3 elevated stations (Taj East Gate, Basai, and Fatehabad Road) and 3 underground stations (Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and Jama Masjid). Works on the former stations have reportedly reached an advanced stage.
UPMRC is expected to roll out the first metro train on the priority corridor by January 2024.