Prabhakar Atla, Senior Vice President, Rail Transportation Business Unit, Cyient, a Hyderabad-based, software-enabled engineering and geographic information system (GIS) services firm, sees the modernisation drive by the Indian Railways immensely benefitting its domestic railway business.
What solutions are you presently providing to the Indian Railways?
Cyient is a global rail engineering solutions provider with over 25 years of rich engineering heritage. We partner with rolling stock original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and rail signalling providers, enabling them to effectively design, build and maintain assets and efficiently realise projects for the Indian Railways. Our design solutions include rolling stock project and product engineering support and signalling application engineering. Our build offering includes product localisation, life extension support and electronics manufacturing. Our maintain offering focuses on enhancing the efficiency and availability of assets through data analytics-led solutions.
We have been an integral part of the Indian railway ecosystem for several years now and have made significant contribution to various projects across the country. Our contribution to this ecosystem has doubled in the last two years.
What are the main complexities that you generally encounter while servicing a network as humongous as the IR?
The Indian Railways is a vast organisation with significant geographical spread. Owing to this, the requirements are often diverse and unique, leading to a higher degree of challenging bespoke solutions. Ensuring safety is a daunting task due to the sheer number of level crossings, miles of unfenced tracks and millions of signalling assets that need to be monitored and maintained in the vast railway network. A large number of railway projects under development in India, especially in the mass transit segment, are greenfield projects. Greenfield projects are inherently accompanied by uncertainties; land acquisition being one of the major challenges disrupting project schedules. However, based on our global experience, we strongly believe that these complexities are well-manageable and addressable.
How challenging is the task for modernisation of the IR network?
The task is definitely daunting, but achievable. I draw a parallel here from India's progress and achievements in renewable energy generation, where the target of generating 40 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2030 seemed daunting in 2015. But we are now predicting to generate 57 per cent of energy from renewable sources by 2027, which is way ahead of the target. As a nation, I believe we are fully equipped and geared up to transform our core industry segments, including the railways.
Does India have adequate pool of trained manpower to keep pace with the imminent expansion in the sector in the near future?
India does have a pool of manpower that can be readily trained. We, at Cyient, currently have a pool of 1,500 railway engineers, some in niche areas such as signalling. I believe that India has the capacity to support the modernisation plan of Indian Railways. However, there is certainly some distance that the industry has to travel in terms of further enhancing the domain-specific skill set of the talent pool in this country.
As a fully home-grown provider of engineering, manufacturing, data analytics, networks and operations solutions, to what extent has your experience of servicing the railway sector in India helped you acquire a competitive edge globally?
In our case, it is quite the opposite. We have been in the railway industry for the last 13 years, and have extended engineering support to over 200 reputed projects globally. We have partnered with our customers to deliver technologically superior products, achieve faster time-to-market and deliver projects in a cost-efficient manner in the segments of rolling stock and signalling, across the globe. We bring to the railways this global experience, coupled with our design-build-maintain portfolio of offerings spanning across the entire lifecycle of a railway project and the rich competence of our engineering team. The task ahead of us is to adapt and localise the global technologies and best practices to the framework and requirements of the Indian railway ecosystem. And, I believe, we are making very good progress.
- Manish Pant