Global Hitachi Group Product & Services Hitachi Group Corporate Information

Dr. Manoj Kumar Krishnappa is the Head of Hitachi Rail’s Operations in India. In this interview, he tells us more about the major projects being delivered by the team and the vision he has for ensuring greater diversity, equity, and inclusion across the business…

Dr Manoj, can you tell us about your career journey in Hitachi Rail?

I have been working at Hitachi Rail now for 13 years, joining as the Head of Sales and Marketing at Ansaldo STS, which was acquired by Hitachi. I feel privileged and proud to say that I won the first metro project for Hitachi India in my first year, and it was the Kolkata metro project which was recently delivered and inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India in March 2024.

In my current role as the head of Hitachi Rail in India, we have completed three metro projects and all three are now in revenue service. Last year, we won one of the biggest metro projects in the world, which is the Chennai metro project.

Hitachi as a brand is growing immensely in India, and I feel very proud to be a part of Hitachi Rail which is working closely with the government, in building critical national infrastructure.

What are the major projects being managed by Hitachi Rail in India?

A project which is of great significance to India is the one in Jammu and Kashmir. This incredible project included the bid, design, manufacturing, installation, commissioning, and delivery. The project consists of 24 stations from Baramullah to Reasi – stretching over 258km including tunnels. Our team commissioned all the stations over a 10-year period and the tunnels are automated with electronic interlocking.

It's a flagship project which I think any Hitachi employee should be proud of, and at the inauguration, the Prime Minister congratulated the whole team for their courage and their energy to complete the work. It requires that kind of an organisation which will sustain over 10 years, to be there and continuously believe in the project to bring it to the final delivery phase.

Another project to be proud of is the Kolkata Metro, India’s first underwater metro rail, where the signalling, telecommunication and system integration is all powered by Hitachi Rail. Kolkata's East-West Metro success is a milestone for Kolkata's transit landscape, and Hitachi Rail was a key partner in the delivery of the project. At the project's core lies our state-of-the-art signalling system, operating at GOA level 2 (semi-automatic). This project, realised through collaborative efforts with global partners, serves as the bedrock for a seamless commuter experience. The integration of advanced Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) systems, Automatic Train Supervision (ATS), and Computer Based Interlocking Systems (IXL) further amplifies the project's efficiency, seamlessly complemented by advanced telecom systems tailored to cater to the diverse needs of passengers.

The East-West Metro project marks the dawn of a transformative era in urban transportation, seamlessly connecting key hubs including Howrah, Sealdah, and Sector V. Anticipating an estimated daily ridership of one million passengers upon full operation, the metro presents a sustainable, cost-effective, and convenient alternative to cars, significantly cutting travel time and enhancing the city's appeal.

The next exciting upcoming project is a Japanese Shinkansen high-speed bullet train which would be the first bullet train in India!

Can you tell us about the technologies that are being used in these projects?         

We have a legacy to be proud of, for being the first to introduce new various new technology into India such as electronic interlocking, centralised traffic control systems, monorails, train protection warning systems (TPWS), or the auto block. We have implemented one of the largest electronic interlocking systems in the world, here in India. India’s first fastest train, the “Gatimaan Express”, runs on Hitachi Rail TPWS technology.

And although the core of our business is signalling, when there is an opportunity for a turnkey project, we partner with one of the local companies and form a consortium. For example, Navi Mumbai is a turnkey project which we successfully executed. We put into revenue service India’s first turnkey project spearheaded by Hitachi Rail in partnership with CRRC & TATA Projects (India’s big business house), which included rolling stock, signalling, telecommunication, electrification, the substation, track work, depot systems & the system integration of the full system.

"More and more of our stations are equipped with automation, which means you can run more trains on a given day. India as a nation has not fully embraced battery-operated or hydrogen-based trains yet, but most of the signalling equipment is digital, so it's energy-efficient, it's safer, and more cost effective."

What does the future hold for Hitachi Rail in India?

India is a booming economy with a lot of opportunities, especially in the railway sector, so there's a huge greenfield market opportunity for the next 25 years. Thereafter, you need to maintain, update, and refurbish older infrastructure, providing even more long-term opportunities.

Aside from the core business, we are also taking part in nation building - providing the “last mile connectivity”. We have been able to bring people much closer and much faster in terms of their travel and commuting in a vast country…it used to take a whole day for people to travel from Delhi to Agra or Delhi to Kanpur, but today, you can travel these distances within one hour.

What are the strides being made within the organisation in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)?

We have taken DEI as one of the main components in our business matrix. When we win new business, we can only deliver to our customers through the strength of our people. Diversity helps us do better as a business and perform better as a team.

We have an increasing number of female employees in our organisation across leadership teams, legal, engineering, compliance teams, and in recruitment also. Out of 330 people, about 11% are female employees. For International Women’s Day in 2024, we invited all our female colleagues across Noida, Delhi, Mumbai for a comprehensive workshop in Bangalore.

We want women - and all our employees - to feel safe and comfortable at work, and we want to listen to their voices. Which is why such workshops and open interaction are important - we are now not only focussing on hiring more women, but also the wider spectrum of inclusivity for minority groups.

Hitachi Rail in India is a great place to work with ample career opportunities. There are exciting projects, and new technologies to learn from - and a great working atmosphere.

To find out more about careers at Hitachi Rail, please click here to visit our careers pages.


Manoj Kumar Krishnappa

Head of Hitachi Rail’s Operations - India