A boom in the development of metro rail projects in India is not only helping to ease congested streets but is also generating lucrative business opportunities as the country ploughs funds into bringing its deficient public transport system up to speed.

Amid accelerating urbanization and growing concerns about pollution, there is a desperate need for mass urban transport solutions in India’s cities. Between 2014 and 2050, there are expected to be an additional 404 million Indians in the country’s urban areas, as large numbers of the population move from rural areas to cities, according to the United Nations.

The first line of the metro in Chennai, in south India, opened less than five months ago. In the north, a metro in Jaipur also started operations in June. The long-awaited first phase of Mumbai’s metro launched to the public last year.

Last Monday, a new line for Bangalore’s metro was launched. Metros in Kochi in Kerala and in Hyderabad are expected to open next year. There are also metro systems planned for many other cities across the country, including Ahmedabad in the western state of Gujarat.

India had been lagging behind other countries in terms of metro development. The country’s first metro in Kolkata opened in 1984, the second was the Chennai MRTS, and the third one, in New Delhi, launched in 2002. India now has eight metro systems that are operational.

France’s Alstom, a foreign company has been capitalizing on the expansion of metro rail projects in India. Alstom offers its wide support in terms of technology and capitalization for Kochi Metro Rail. Last month, the transport firm announced that it had been awarded a contract worth more than €150m (Dh589.1m) by Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation to provide metro train sets and a signaling solution for the new metro network planned for Lucknow in the state of Uttar Pradesh, north India.

Narendra Modi, the country’s prime minister, has said the aim is to have metros in at least 50 cities across India eventually. Such development, with each project costing tens of billions of rupees, is generating huge opportunities for foreign and Indian companies.

Source: The National

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