Bangalore Metro bids for Phase II 15 Feb 2018

Shani Wallis, TunnelTalk

Tender results opened recently for the four packages to build the 14km underground section of the 21.5km long Line 4 Phase II build-out of the Bangalore Metro reveal bids that are close in competitive range and substantially above the owner’s estimates (Fig 1). The lowest bids for each package are up to 65-75% above estimate with the highest bid for each almost double the estimate. The lowest bid for each of the packages is submitted by one each of the four competing contractors.

Fig 1. Bid result for underground section of Line 4 - lowest in green, highest in red
Fig 1. Bid result for underground section of Line 4 - lowest in green, highest in red
Table 1. Details of each underground construction package
Package 1
South Ramp to Vellara Road Station with three underground stations at Dairy Circle, MICO Industries and Langford Town
Package 2
Vellara Road Station to Cantonment Station plus three underground stations at Vellara Road, MG Road and Shivaji Nagar
Package 3
Cantonment Station to Venkateshpura Station with three underground stations at Cantonment, Pottery Town and Tannery Road
Package 4
Venkateshpura Station to North Ramp with three underground stations at Venkateshpura, Arabic College and Nagawara

Sixteen construction companies requested bid documents and attended the prebid meetings in 2017 and technical proposals were invited in June and submitted by the four competing firms in October 2017. The financial bids were opened once the technical bids were qualified and evaluated. The combined totals for the four lowest bids at Rs 8553.45 core, is nearly 70% higher than the estimated total of Rs 5047.56 core.

Total completion cost of the proposed Line 4 corridor is estimated by BMRC at Rs 11,908.32 crore including the metro rolling stock and system M&E fittout. Start of construction was planned by 2017 with the new line becoming fully operational by 2021.

The four bidders - Larsen & Toubro (L&T), Italian-Thai Development (ITD), Afcons Infrastructure and Gulermak of Turkey - are competing for packages that comprise up to 4km of twin tube TBM running tunnels and three open-cut station boxes in the civil works of the central underground section of the line (Fig 2 and Table 1).

Packages for 7km and 6 stations of elevated structures extend the route south from just after Dairy Circle Station to Gottigere Station. The elevated section interests with the elevated Line 3 route of the network (Fig 3). The underground Line 4 will intersect with the East-West Line at its elevated station at MG Road.

Fig 2. Underground section (above) of the Line 4 Phase II project (Fig 3. below)

L&T submitted bids for Package 2 and Package 3 with the other three bidding on all four packages. As the only non-national competitor, Gulermak of Turkey is currently engaged on its first Indian project in joint venture with India’s Tat Projects on the Lucknow Metro. According to BMRC, documents a maximum of two packages can be awarded to the same bidder.

The contractors who worked on the underground sections of Phase 1 declined to participate in the Phase II procurement. The CEC-Soma-CICI JV completed the 3.5km underground alignment of the 18km East-West Purple Line UG-2 contract using Hitachi slurry TBMs and the Coastal-Transtonnelstroy JV finally completed the troubled 4.8km long underground sections of the 24km long North-South Green Line using a SELI EPB machine and two Herrenknecht EPBMs. The centre piece Majestic underground station in the heart of the city was removed from the GU2 underground tunnelling contract and tendered as a separate operation.

Phased opening of the Phase 1 lines began with elevated sections in 2011 with the first sections of underground system on the East-West Purple Line and either side of the delayed Majestic Interchange Station opening in May and November 2015.

Major troubles with the EPB machines through the mixed ground conditions on the running tunnels, combined with the delays on excavation and contruction of the Majestic Station, held up opening of the central section of the North-South Line and continuous travel on the East-West Line through Majestic Station until June 2017.

Given the better performance of the slurry TBM systems on the UG-1 section of the Phase 1 construction programme, and the troubles with wear and breakdowns experienced by the EPB machines, it is said that slurry TBM excavation is specified for the Phase II running tunnel works. It is said also that BMRC has specified the number of TBMs to be used on each contract which will also have influenced the bid prices.

Underground core of the Phase 1 UG-1 and UG-2 contracts
Underground core of the Phase 1 UG-1 and UG-2 contracts
Open cut construction of the central Majestic Station caused delayed opening of the full Phase 1 metro services
Open cut construction of the central Majestic Station caused delayed opening of the full Phase 1 metro services

Given the higher than estimate financial bids for the contracts, thoughts are that BMRC will either retender the packages with scope modifications to bring down the prices, or perhaps combine the four into two larger packages to take advantage of potential economies of scale. Given experience of the earlier Phase I contract award delays and rebids, suggestion is that it will take up to a year for BMRC to navigate and negotiate a way forward for Phase II.

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