Millennium Post

Falling standards

Even after a decade of operation the DMRC is yet to find a permanent solution to find a solution to this problem which has now become a regular affair. Despite being praised for its commendable services, series of technical snags in recent months have raised serious questions over the functioning of the DMRC.

‘I am a daily commuter on the  Delhi Metro and have been using it for almost a decade and feel quite comfortable in it. But recently I experienced a virtual nightmare. Along with my three-year-old son, I was going to my parents’ home in Uttam Nagar. I boarded the metro at Vaishali station. It takes around an hour to reach the Uttam Nagar East station but unfortunately that day, the metro had some technical snag and I had to bear the brunt of it. I was carrying two bags and couldn’t get a seat as the Metro was jam packed right from Vaishali station. It was claustrophobic and a passenger puked right in front of me. My son started crying and I was clueless. I thought I’ll reach the station by 9:30 pm, but the failure was major and the metro took an hour extra. At 10.30 pm, I was at Uttam Nagar East station, a place which has been in news due to rape incidents; I had nobody to pick me from my family. While it takes 10 minutes to reach home from the station, I took 30. Reason: that very day, police removed the rickshaws, adding to my misery. After a lot of hassle, I finally hired an auto that overcharged me by Rs 100,’ says Neha Nigam, who lives in Vaishali, Ghaziabad, UP.

Technical snags
According to the union urban development ministry, on an average Delhi Metro service halts or gets delayed more than once every day. In 2013 itself the total number of incidents including delayed trains or trip cancellations, caused due to technical snags stood at 496.  Earlier in a major lapse, a packed Delhi Metro train on July 17 sped between two stations on an elevated corridor with doors open on one side. Hundreds aboard the Yellow Line train were taken aback as the train left the Arjangarh station without the doors being closed and Delhi Metro realised its folly only when the train reached Ghitorni station, two minutes later. Fortunately, there wasn’t  much panic and passengers quickly moved away from the open doors. A few even coolly recorded the bizarre scene on their mobile phones.

The Delhi Metro claims that the coaches have automatic door opening and closing mechanism and that a train cannot move unless all the doors are closed and locked. ‘If a door opens accidentally in the moving train, brakes will apply automatically, bringing the train to a halt,’ it says. But this clearly did not happen on that fateful Thursday, raising basic questions about the safety of passengers.

Meanwhile, urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu in a written reply in Lok Sabha had stated that till July this year there were 297 incidents of technical snags. Quoting the data provided by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), the minister had mentioned that over 50 per cent of the incidents last year were caused due to problems in signalling and rolling stock. The situation was no different this year.

The data further shows that in  2013, suicides, adverse weather and power grid failure were the other reasons for the 77 halts and delays. Blue Line service from Dwarka to Noida City Centre/Vaishali, remained the worst affected due to frequent technical faults.

Delhi Metro’s managing director Mangu Singh on September 2 this year asked officials to conduct an audit into the different types of electrical-related failures on the line so that the pattern of the failures could be analysed and technical methods can be sought to minimize the occurrence of such incidents.

‘The delay in Dwarka line has become a nuisance. Every other day there is a problem and many commuters like me get delayed for work and other things,’ said Rohit Sharma, a daily commuter. The newly built Mandi House and other metro stations lack passenger amenities when it comes to toilets, cleanliness, escalator and lifts services. Despite being showcased as capital’s pride, the poor maintenance shows that the lifeline is falling apart.

During a recent day-long survey, Millennium Post found that at Mandi House metro station, the escalators were not functioning in addition to lack of cleanliness in toilets and poor general upkeep. Same situation was found at Kashmere Gate, Rajiv Chowk, Anand Vihar, Laxmi Nagar and at the IFFCO Chowk metro station in Gurgaon.

The commuters specially complained about the unhygienic condition of toilets facilities in Metro premises. It was also noticed that some stations toilets remain closed. The wash rooms of Delhi Metro stations are maintained and managed by private operators. Most of the stations, the toilets are located far out of the way in the remotest f corners, which renders them quite inaccessible for commuters.

Mismanaged work sites & traffic congestion
There are numbers of complaints that the ongoing construction of new metro lines are mismanaged causing traffic congestion and have become an eye-sore when it comes to piles of unfenced construction materials lying on the roads. Earlier, (till about a year back) the national capital was used to witness efficient manning of the whole operation. It seems that DMRC is struggling hard these days to retain its famous tidy work culture.

The construction sites at South Ex, Modi Mill, Anand Vihar and several others creating huge traffic jams especially during peak hours cause sever inconvenience for commuters.‘We are forced to walk a kilometre extra due to the ongoing Metro work. The service lane has been narrowed and vehicles can’t use it. DMRC’s marshals supposedly deployed by at these points to regulate traffic are hardly seen. Cars and motorcycles enter the service lane blocking it, leading to fights,’ said Rohit Sharma, a resident of South Ex.

‘Because of the construction work of South Ex Metro station, area’s bus stand has been shifted near AIIMS. I live in Masjid Moth area, and have to walk around 500 meters to reach my house because of the diversion,’ said Atul Varma, a local resident. Similar situation can be seen at Mayur Vihar phase-1 to Trilok puri site and Mayur Vihar phase 2, East Vinod Nager, Modi Mill, Kalka Ji and other parts of the city.

Dis-functioning of electronic panel
It was noticed that the ‘electronic panel’ meant to show the destinations inside the metro coaches do not function property. Also, it came to notice that the destinations shown in the ‘electronic panel’ are incorrect and often lead to confusion among passengers. Not the least, lights inside the coaches going off have also reported time to time. ‘On several occasions, when electronic panel installed inside the metro coaches do not show the destination, the commutes who are already puzzled due to crowed train are left to the mercy of the recorded announcement, that too on many occasions comes out in muffled voice,’ said Neha Nigam, a daily metro commuter.

Women safety
A majority of women do not feel safe while travelling in the Delhi Metro. Most of them have to face the verbal and physical harassment even in the women reserved coaches. One can easily see the reserved women coaches are occupied by the male intruders who occupy almost all the seats forcing the women to stand, leaving them with no choice but to actively demand the seats they were entitled to. ‘We face a lot of harassment when travelling with male passengers in crowded trains. That is why the reserved coaches were introduced in the first place. But despite warnings, some men continue to board such coaches. While some men genuinely enter these coaches by mistake but some just sit their with intention. Some men stare at us badly. Boarding metro at night is unsafe. While I travel back from office at night, even in women compartment lot of men sit there. Once I told a man to vacate it, he ignored it,’ said Rachna Sareen, a metro commuter.

Wrong information
‘I am a daily commuter of Delhi metro; I work in Noida and come here via metro. On several occasions  I noticed that Metro first announced last station of Dwarka, but later it ended at Dwarka Mode, this is a frequent happing on this route which create problem and confusion among the commuters,’ said Vimal Joshi, a metro commuter.

Also the commuters complain that the information on electronic panels that have been installed at the metro premises and show the time remaining for next metro arrival, changes all of a sudden and leaving the commuters confused.

Complaint cell
The commuters find it difficult to file any complaint. ‘There should be the name of the concerned persons with their contact numbers more visible in all the metro stations, in most of the instances, people find themselves confused on who to contact in case of any emergency, said Sandeep Kumar, who lost his mobile in the metro and faced lot of difficulty to file complaint.

Recharge trouble for student

Since, large of number students travel by Metro on daily basis, students have been demanding to that the minimum recharge amount for them should be brought down from the existing Rs 200. This issue was also on the poll agenda of Delhi University Students Union (DUSU) elections.
Dying culture of courtesy among commuters

Abusive language, hassle in boarding the train, breaking the queue and young men refusing to give the seats reserved for women and the elderly, and commuters sitting on the floor of the train or playing music loudly are common scene at any metro station and train today. Squatting on the floor, playing music, eating and drinking inside station buildings and on trains is prohibited. Littering is another common problem at all metro station. But despite knowing all this many commuters do it deliberately.

Even several commuters misusing the public emergency alarm system on trains. The device allows commuters to speak to the train operator in case of an emergency. Such incidents have delayed trains and caused cancellations.

If the DMRC management doesn’t wake to fast deteriorating metro service, the  soon the efficient metro would become a relic of the past.
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