With the Commonwealth Games inching closer and the Delhi Metro preparing to be the last word on fast and efficient commuter services,authorities are planning to give a facelift to Delhis Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) train services,run by the Northern Railways,a former lifeline that has long since receded to the background.
The difference,however,between the two rail networks is stark. Sample this. The EMU train services,introduced in 1975 and augmented in 1982 during the Asiad Games,today runs 13 trains covering 35.21 km between 21 stations. Without any augmentation plans for the Games,the average footfall is just around 20 per cent of the networks total capacity,which comes up to 4,000 commuters per day.
The Delhi Metro,running on selective routes yet covering 193.16 km,currently runs 70 trains. The number will go up to 153 by September 2010,before the Games begin.
The daily passenger count as of now stands at 8.5 lakh. By the end of completion of Phase II,with Delhi Metro making inroads into NCR as well,the number is expected to go up to 20 lakh.
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The EMU services,highly popular in the 1980s and 90s and ferrying not only passengers from the NCR but across the city as well,seems on the other hand to have faded from the average Delhi commuters mind.
Initially,the Southern segment of the Ring Railways suffered as there were no business or office areas or heavily populated residential areas that it catered to.
But later reports by the Dalvi Committee,Railway Reform Committee and a survey report by RITES cited that the reason for poor patronage of the service was due to the locations of these stations being far away from connecting road services,apart from there being no connecting bus services available at the stations.
Until better feeder services are provided,the EMU services will never take off. The stations are located very far away from connecting road services,which is a hassle for passengers, B D Garg,Divisional Railway Manager,Northern Railways told Newsline.
The Ring Railways is no longer popular. We do not see any requirement to augment the services for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. But we will certainly give the Ring Railways a facelift, Garg said.
So,while the Delhi Metro stations sport swankier looks and the new coaches get even more hi-tech,the Ring Railways can only hope for better flooring of platforms,cleanliness,drinking water facilities and better maintenance of the station buildings and circulating areas.
The Ring Railways upgrade has been a long-standing debate. A committee of officers from the Transport department of the Delhi government,the DMRC and RITES,set up in April 2002,had suggested measures to take pressure off the Capitals roads and popularise the Ring Railways. No concrete plans on the same,however,have been put forth yet.
Northern Railways officials are of the view that the measures cited by the committee are insufficient. The only way to attract commuters for the Ring Railways,they believe,is by providing better feeder services of buses/RTVs by the State government.
A core committee,comprising the Chief Passenger Traffic Manager,Northern Railways,the Transport Commissioner and senior officials from the New Delhi Municipal Council and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi had also been formed to devise ways and means to increase footfall for the Ring Railways,but to little effect.
* Single line of Ring Railways was introduced in the Capital in 1975 with diesel-hauled service. The double line,working with electric traction,came in 1982 during the Asiad Games. The services began with eight trains and now stand at 13.
* EMU service for a round trip from Hazrat Nizamuddin takes approximately 100 minutes and costs just Rs 10 for the entire journey.
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