How has the Delhi Metro evolved in the last decade?
The Delhi Metro has evolved tremendously. We started with some thousand commuters over a distance of 8 km. Now, the Metro covers 190 km and ferries nearly 22 lakh commuters per day.
Passengers will experience a higher quality of services. The signalling system has been upgraded. So, the train frequency will be much higher. Trains will arrive every 100-120 seconds. At present, the frequency is one train every 2.5 minutes. Stations will have automated passenger screen doors. Plans are in place to have multi-modal transport outside Metro stations.
Extending the Metro to far-flung areas will lead to a rise in the number of commuters. How do you plan to tackle that?
To manage greater passenger footfall, Phase-III will have the largest number of interchange stations —15. This will reduce the burden at stations such as Rajiv Chowk and Kashmere Gate. Some of the existing lines will get eight-coach trains to ferry more passengers.
A few weeks ago, passengers were stranded in Metro tunnels after trains stopped suddenly. What steps are being taken to avoid such incidents?
The trains stopped due to automatic application of emergency brakes after a software malfunction. We have decided that if a similar incident occurs again, passengers will not be made to wait more than 10 minutes before evacuation. Technical aspects are being taken care of to ensure that lights and air conditioners continue to work in emergency situations. The interiors of the underground tunnel will also be made evacuation-friendly.
Delhi Metro has become a role model for Metro networks in other cities. What has set it apart?
Delhi Metro has expertise in both planning and execution. When we started, we hired international consultants for which we had to pay an exorbitant amount. But today, the DMRC itself provides consultancy to many Metro projects abroad. It has experience in planning, commissioning, execution and operation, which is a landmark achievement. Upcoming Metro networks in other cities can hire either an international consultant or the DMRC. The DMRC has a separate Projects and Operations team. While the former deals with planning, the latter focuses only on execution of work.