Delhi Metro: A long awaited boon
The swanky and up-to-date Delhi Metro system introduced comfortable, air conditioned and eco-friendly services for the first time in India revolutionising the concept of mass urban transportation not only in the NCR but across the entire country, writes Lahari Basu.
"Before the metros, travelling in the city in public transport was not meant for the fainthearted. Even travelling in one's private car took hours owing to the prolonged traffic jams and people had to leave two hours early in order to reach work in time, traversing through the streets of Delhi," says Amrita, a regular Metro passenger. Now that we have the metro connectivity in so many parts of the city operating for the past few years, taking a bus to work is an unthinkable idea for daily commuters.
"The shutting down of the Blue line bus service in Delhi was only possible because of the Delhi Metro. Otherwise who could have carried the load if the blue line had been shut down?" echoes a Quora user on being asked whether the Delhi Metro had contributed in easing traffic congestion. Travelling from NOIDA to Gurugram would have been a nightmare if not for the role of a saviour that the Delhi Metro blue line plays in providing comfortable and quick transportation.
The swanky and up-to-date Delhi Metro system introduced comfortable, air conditioned and eco-friendly services for the first time in India revolutionising the concept of mass urban transportation not only in the National Capital Region but across the entire country. Following which several other cities like Chennai (started operations from 2015), Bangaluru (the second longest network in the country, operating since 2011), Mumbai (started operation on June 2014), Jaipur (began commercial service from June 2015) and Kochi (opened to public June 2017 onwards) started operations and are gradually paving out rails for expansions across the respective cities.
Providing approximately 11,000 employments, and having around 200 trains operating daily, Delhi metro is the world's 12th longest metro system, with Shanghai being the longest, and ranks 16th largest in terms of ridership.
As per the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRC) website, the DMRC was registered on May 3, 1995 under the Companies Act, 1956 with equal equity participation of the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) and the Central Government to implement the dream of construction and operation of a world- class Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS).
A fast growing network, DMRC aims to connect every corner of the NCR for a smooth and efficient travel experience. Lakhs of commuters prefer the metro over private cars rides or cabs, for long distance journeys today.
"The metro system truly helped in connecting, since it became functional Gurugram and NOIDA could flourish as well. And if I can travel from Ghaziabad to Gurugram everyday, being in an industry which is always highly active, it is only because of the metro," says Anasua Mitra, a Public Relation professional and a daily Metro commuter.
Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has not only succeeded in providing an alternative and faster travel solution to Delhiites, but has also contributed in controlling air pollution in the city by loading off more than three lakh cars off the city streets.
As per reports from July, DMRC has become the world's first completely green metro. DMRC has also been certified by the United Nations (UN) as the first Metro Rail and rail based system in the world to get carbon credits for reducing green house gas emissions as it has helped to reduce pollution levels in the city by 6.3 lakh tons every year thus helping in reducing global warming. The stations presently under construction are being constructed as green buildings. It has also set up roof top solar power plants at many of its stations. With figures like that, DMRC's future seems to shine bright and help it rise up to be one of the largest metro networks in the world.
While the pioneer of Metros – Kolkata – is still struggling to expand its existing line and making new lines operational, the situation has been very different in the Capital. Laying off rails since 2002 the Delhi Metro network presently operates connecting 218.17 Km with 164 stations plus six more stations of the Airport Express Link. The network also crossed the boundaries of Delhi to reach NOIDA and Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, Gurugram and Faridabad in Haryana. In Phase III of Delhi Metro's construction, the DMRC is in the process of building another 160 km of metro lines weaving a web of metro corridors along the city's Ring Road besides connecting the city with many other localities in NOIDA, Ghaziabad and Bahadurgarh.
With well planned fund requirements in advance, the sources of funds were tied up before the real work for Phase I began. With a major portion of the fund being financed by the Government of Japan by way of a soft loan through the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), now called the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the rest funded jointly by the Central and State Governments the Rs 10,579 crore project was started, which gradually swelled over the past decade and DMRC is now looking at an estimated cost of Rs 41,079 crore for the Phase III expansions. JICA is providing 48.57 per cent of the total fund, while the Government of India and of Delhi are paying 10.04 per cent each.
In September 2014 Delhi Metro had emerged as the second most popular Metro network in the world, ahead of Paris, Madrid, Hong Kong, Singapore and others. An online survey, conducted by Global Metro Bench-marking Groups NOVA and CoMET, on customer satisfaction had put Delhi Metro among the top three Metro networks along with those in London and Bangkok. As per their website, DMRC has also been ranked 1st in 'Information during travel' and 2nd in 'Train cleanliness and comfort' in an international survey of Metro systems conducted by the Railway and Transport Strategic Centre (RTSC), in May 2015.
But how satisfying is the metro connectivity to people now? "They need to increase the number of coaches in the metros, as population in the city is increasing day by day with more people coming in from other cities for jobs every day," suggests Hassan Faridi, a regular Delhi Metro commuter for the past three years.
"Before Metro, life was different in Delhi like it is everywhere. The DTC and blue line busses were famous back then. Metro changed the way Delhiites commuted. It connected Delhi and moved into the NCR leading to the growth of the region. But now metros are overcrowded, and the quality of management has deteriorated. Sometimes the air-conditioning doesn't work in crowded metros! The amount invested by DMRC is mostly being used to increase metro trails but the quality of service has surely gone down since its inception," opines Anasua.
In context to the commuters' inconvenience, with unimaginable crowd during peak hours, DMRC spokesperson says, "DMRC is gradually introducing additional coaches and improving the frequency of trains on all its operational corridors to increase the carrying capacity of the system; the process will be completed by next year." DMRC is also trying to cope up with the emerging flaws that are circumscribing the metro services to commuters. But they have also kept up with the changing trends of time. Recently, a free WiFi facility had been launched which enables commuters to use the service at all Blue line metro stations.
"In Phase III, a new signaling technology called Communication Based Train Control is being introduced. This new technology will facilitate the movement of trains with a design capacity of ninety to hundred seconds which will significantly enhance the overall carrying capacity of the Metro system since more trains will be available for passenger services," explains DMRC spokesperson.
With hopes of a decent and well connected Metro system, the middle class commuter patiently awaits the completion of DMRC's Phase iii project by March 2018 along with some fine and new changes brought up by the Corporation.