Expertise for modern railway stations

Expertise for modern railway stations

India is a land of superlatives. It covers a vast area, its economy is growing, and it is the world’s most populous country. The Indian state is ­investing huge sums in making its transport infrastructure fit to meet the country’s growing requirements. A programme just to modernise its railway stations is set to cost the equivalent of 30 billion euros. TÜV India has successfully landed some lucrative orders in project management and project supervision. 


Every day, 23 million people in India make journeys in over 10,000 passenger trains. And then there are the 7,000 goods trains which carry three million tons’ worth of freight. India boasts the world’s fourth largest railway industry, with a total track length of 68,000 kilometres. The operator is state-owned Indian Railways, which, with some 1.3 million employees, is the largest employer in India and the eighth largest in the world. But India’s rail network is not just one of the world’s biggest: It’s also one of the oldest. Over half of its assets predate Indian independence. Tracks, signal boxes, trains and wagons are in many cases over 70 years old and in urgent need of modernisation. The same applies to most of the stations, of which there are 7,325 nationwide.








“The ‘Amrit Bharat Station Scheme’ will breathe new life into our railway stations,” explains Velayutham Viswanathan, Senior ­Executive Vice President of Railway, Building & Renewable at TÜV India. “Amrit Bharat” means “eternal country” and is the name of one of the programmes of India’s railway ministry. The programme has earmarked 30 billion euros for Indian Railways to convert and modernise 1,275 of its stations in the next five years. Its goals are ambitious: The antiquated stations are to be transformed into modern travel centres from which passengers will be able to travel in the kind of comfort they would otherwise expect at an international airport. To this end, the intention is for the modernisation of the access points with lifts and escalators or new sanitary facilities to be accompanied by the addition of comfortable, air-conditioned waiting rooms, modern passenger information systems, free Wi-Fi, lounges or rooms for business meetings.









The railway station as urban centre

A further aim of the conversion work is to integrate the stations better into the surrounding municipalities. The idea is for them to become a kind of urban centre, not just for commuters but also for the public at large, with large covered plazas and facilities such as food courts or children’s playgrounds. The aim of the “One Station One Product” initiative (OSOP) is to create a market for local products. Railway stations offer an opportunity for the prominent showcasing and sale of local products. This will also offer local people the prospect of new sources of income. At the same time, travellers will be able to rely on the high quality of the goods offered in the stations. The “Amrit Bharat Station Scheme” is one of a whole raft of government initiatives with the aim of ensuring that the transport infrastructure will meet the growing requirements. There are numerous points of contact, one example being with the “Gati Shakti Scheme”, which concerns the development and expansion of multimodal transport connections, and another being “Bharatmala”, a project which intends to connect the 550 district capitals of India with motorways with at least four lanes.



“These projects are a major boost for TÜV NORD, and not just financially.”

Dr. Stefan Pöting, Executive Vice President Rail, TÜV NORD




“So far, we’ve managed to pick up ten projects from tenders for the ‘Amrit Bharat Station Scheme’,” Mr. Viswanathan explains. In five of them, all of which concern railway buildings in the south of the country, the work has already begun. TÜV India is providing services in two areas as part of the conversion work: One of them concerns project management services for the railway station conversion work. Here, engineers from TÜV India have taken on official tasks on behalf of the Railway ministry. Depending on the aims of the project in question, they review, verify and validate draft designs, plan deadlines, monitor the project and write reports. The second area concerns the railway infrastructure associated with the stations. Tracks, points, signalling equipment and signal boxes are also to be overhauled as part of the programme. In this case, the engineers from TÜV India are offering project supervision services. Their task is to ensure that the construction work is carried out in accordance with previously defined specifications and standards and that deadlines are met. The project values vary depending on the size of the station and the scope of the planned conversion work. The envisaged average project length is two years. Indian Railways is awarding the contracts in a multistage tender process. The assessment is based on the “Quality cum Cost Based Selection” (QCBS)” method, with 70 percent technical and 30 percent financial weighting.


Major boost for TÜV NORD

“We at TÜV India are proud to be helping to modernise the stations and their infrastructure as official representatives on behalf of the railway ministry,” Mr. Viswanathan explains. The task is a special one, both for his company and for him personally: “It’s a privilege for us to be an important player in this national development project.” Out of the more than 2,000 employees of TÜV India, 215 are working exclusively on the ten railway station projects; of that number, up to 20 inspectors have been assigned to each project as key personnel. The services in the project management field are being offered by experts from the construction sector; the project supervision tasks are being taken on by both construction experts and railway engineers. “This work is allowing us to offer all our expertise in civil engineering and railway construction,” Mr. Viswanathan says.

“These projects are a major boost for TÜV NORD, and not just ­financially,” says Dr. Stefan Pöting, Executive Vice President Rail at TÜV NORD. “We’re working very intensively with our colleagues in India. Our aim for the future is to create a strong international team that we will be able to deploy not just in India but all over the world.” The focus here is on the market for Independent Safety Assessments, or ISA for short: The independent safety monitoring and certification of vehicles, construction projects and, especially, trackside signalling equipment. “It’s basically all about independent reviews of whether all the risks have safely been identified and mitigated to ensure that people who operate or use the system in the future come to no harm.”



“It’s a privilege for us to be an important player in this national development project.” 

Velayutham Viswanathan, Senior Executive Vice President of Railway, Building and Renewable, TÜV India




Expertise appreciated 

European and, above all, German know-how is rated very highly in these matters, even if it comes at a higher price. “As the TÜV NORD GROUP, we have a brand and a reputation to defend,” Dr. Pöting says. This includes going above and beyond the normal requirements in any given country, he adds. With the tenders for the “Amrit Bharat Station Scheme”, this has resulted in a successful outcome. “When we were travelling with our colleagues in India, we also visited the authorities who issued the invitations to tender. There we found that there is a great deal of confidence in the quality of the TÜV NORD GROUP and its safety standards.  And that people are willing to pay for this.” Both Dr. Pöting and Mr. Viswanathan are confident that further orders will come as part of this huge project.

Mr. Viswanathan himself loves taking the train, especially with his family. “The ‘Amrit Bharat Station Scheme’ is one of the measures that will make travelling by train safer, cleaner and more comfortable,” he says. “If you add up how long departures and arrivals, checking in and getting through security take at the airport, you will find that flying will sometimes take longer than going by train.” This is particularly true of the Vande Bharat ­Express, a semi-high-speed train which TÜV India is responsible for inspecting. “If you look at the overall length of the journey and compare the costs, it makes more sense to take the train for trips of up to 500 kilometres. Especially if the stations offer the same level of travel comfort as airports.”