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Insights How 3D modelling has redesigned India's transportation market

3D modelling software transforms how teams in the transportation market collaborate. It provides a space to bring projects to life, allowing for better communication between project engineers, project managers and other team members. Read on to learn more about how it is designing India’s transportation market.

Mistakes are costly in transport planning. When design teams use two-dimensional plans, the conflicts often aren't flagged. Using 3D modelling quite literally takes transport planning to a whole new dimension, letting engineering create plans that are more detailed than 2D plans could ever be.

image of a man using 3D modelling software

Efficiency in the railway sector

Rail is one of the most widely used forms of long-distance transport in India. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), while the global rail sector accounts for 2% of overall transport energy used, it services 8% of travellers worldwide. So where does India come into this?

The IEA reports that the country accounts for 39% of all passengers travelling via conventional rail, which ‘covers medium- to long-distance journeys with a maximum speed under 250 kph and suburban train journeys.’ This makes India the leader in the conventional rail networks, surpassing major rail regions such as North America, Europe, China, Russia, and Japan.

While the conventional network has remained much the same over the past few decades, digitisation is changing that. Engineers use Building Information Modelling (BIM) to create a digital representation and accurately calculate the resources needed, saving time, materials and money. Not only does this 3D modelling process ensure a project is delivered sustainably, but because of these reduced costs, software like BIM can narrow the railway funding gap.

The Indian railway network still relies heavily on a traditional manufacturing process, where components of coaches are built and then stored before assembly. This is a costly approach that 3D modelling tackles. The railway industry has recently started using ‘Make in India’ 3D printers that allow the coaches to be designed and modelled all before any production takes place, meaning that any faults are corrected in the design phase.

Cutting the costs of building highways and roads

India was hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 outbreak, and the regional lockdowns posed a real threat for many industries. While many will have guessed transportation to be at the top of this list, India has laid down 13,298 km of highways since April 2021.

So why is 3D modelling superior to 2D when it comes to transport planning ? Firstly, the visualisations are more detailed and when used alongside 3D design review software, such as Navisworks, they generate fewer errors. It has also been shown to improve highway safety standards and can help highway engineers deliver projects at a much lower cost.

Building bridges the right way

When building a bridge, the most important aspect is the planning stage. This covers everything from what materials will be used, the type of bridge that is most suitable for the environment and the project timeline. 3D modelling software aids every stage of the planning process, enabling teams to build bridges that are bigger and more cost-effective, like the Chenab Rail Bridge.

India is known both for historical masterpieces, like the Shahi Bridge, but it’s the modern-day structures such as the under-construction Chenab Rail Bridge that have benefitted from 3D modelling software. This structure is set to be the highest rail bridge in the world, reaching 359 metres above the riverbed. Because of the geographical complexities of the site, a 3D model of the bridge was needed to highlight clashes, allow for contingency plans and ensure the project could be completed on-time and on-budget.

Adding a new dimension to the design and construction of bridges also helps to create detailed and well-documented architecture data. This data is a vital piece of the puzzle if engineers are to cooperate and use their strong interpersonal skills .

Where is 3D modelling taking India’s transportation market?

While 3D BIM models continue to be the go-to for engineers, they’re now beginning to shift their focus to 4D and 5D models that enable them to incorporate scheduling and costs into the workflow with the help of software like Civil 3D. 3D modelling has redesigned India’s transportation market, but with new models on the scene, could a shake-up be in store? Meanwhile, one of the next challenges is integrating 3D models and IoT data to generate seamless visualisation of data streams.

While it’s unclear exactly what route lies ahead, one thing is for sure – 3D modelling software is taking the transportation on an exciting journey.

Develop your career with the AtkinsRéalis Group

A career with Atkins - a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group - is a chance to work on some of the largest multi-million-pound major bids and projects in the transportation sector, such as the Riyadh Metro, the A14 improvement scheme , and the East West Rail Phase 2 (EWR2). The EWR2 project is looking to reinstate a railway between Oxford in the west and Norwich and is the very first time that we are developing a 7D ready BIM data on a rail project, pushing boundaries and embracing digital ways of achieving design delivery.

If that sounds like something that you want to be a part of, start the search for your next transportation job and work towards building your transport planning career with us.

But the projects we deliver aren’t just about delivering smart solutions to complex problems. As part of our CSR commitment , our projects are centred around improving the lives of communities across India, and our employees have a vested interest in improving the future for the next generation. In return, we provide our teams with learning and development programmes, training, career opportunities and a highly regarded tuition reimbursement programme.

Join Atkins India and work alongside our Global Technology Centre who are using digital technology to drive efficiency and better design.