2017 will see the fruition of Delhi Metro’s largest expansion push in recent years with the stage set for the staggered launch of two new major corridors which missed the year-end deadline due to various hurdles including in acquiring of land. According to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) chief Mangu Singh, once operational, the new corridors — Line 7 and Line 8 — will “ease out” the congestion in the central part of the network and absorb the next wave of crowd so people “need not worry at all”.
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Under the phase III expansion project being implemented at a cost of around Rs 40,000 crore, a total of 140 km of network will be added to current coverage of 213 km which is likely to ease vehicular congestion on major arterial roads in the city. Talking about plans for 2017, Singh says commuters will travel in technologically advanced and energy-efficient trains on these sections, where metro is also putting in place a new signalling system Communication Based Train Control (CBTC).
Singh told PTI that the delay in completion of the Kalindi Kunj and Vinod Nagar depots due to land issues and encroachment in few stretches severely hit the project, resulting in it missing the December 2016 launch deadline. “We have completed nearly all the basic structures. We intend to open few section of Line 8 (connecting Janakpuri West to Botanical Garden, Noida) by March and subsequently the rest in three parts every month or every two months.
“Trial runs on Line 7 (Mukundpur to Shiv Vihar) is likely begin sometime in April and later the sections will be thrown open to public,” he says. Singh, piloting DMRC since 2012, explained that contrary to popular perception, metro does not intend to immediately switch to ‘driverless’ trains – or unattended train operation- without devising a strategy.
“Our intention is to have automatic train operation without manual intervention for a more efficient system. That’s a strategy we will device once it starts operating. We will start withdrawing attendants once we realise they are not needed any more,” he says. The ITO-Kashmere Gate ‘Heritage Corridor’, an extension of the Violet Line, will be launched by the end of January, Singh says, attributing the delay to labour crunch due to demonetisation and a temporary ban on construction activities.
The high point of 2016 was the completion of the entire Phase III tunneling work, measuring over 80 km, which DMRC said was one of most challenging and largest such exercise undertaken anywhere across the globe. “Increasing network will ease out the congestion. There will be redistribution of crowd, pattern will change. The central part of the network – for example Kashmere Gate to Central Secretariat on Yellow Line – remains highly crowded.
“Once you have those circular lines, pattern will change. We will add 486 coaches on the new lines and 258 coaches will be added on the existing lines in the next one year. Traffic will increase and we will increase capacity. People need not worry at all,” Singh says. The 58.6-km-long Line 7 (Pink Line) will be the longest corridor of the rapidly expanding metro grid, that will touch portions of the inner-ring road and also drastically cut travel time between eastern and southern flanks of the national capital.
Line 8, christened Magenta Line, will measure 34-km. It will bring the domestic terminal of the IGI Airport within metro’s folds.