NEW DELHI: In a major breach of security in Delhi Metro, which has been on the hit-list of terror groups since its inception, a 108- metre-long signalling cable a copper wire was stolen from the elevated Metro line between Yamuna Bank and Indraprastha Metro stations on Monday night. Seven hundred metres of missing cable on Monday threw Delhi Metro’s schedule haywire as trains ran late and commuters got stranded during peak hours. The problem occurred on the Dwarka Sector 21-Noida City Centre/Vaishali corridor and could not be rectified till the end of services. Commuters complained that travel time doubled, and even tripled, in many cases.
The theft came to light when train services began on the line around 6am and the signals on the tracks on one side were not functioning. “It was found that a 700-metre-long signalling cable was stolen from the line on Monday night, and this caused disruption in Metro services from Indraprastha to Yamuna Bank Metro station,” said a Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) spokesperson. The cable connects the track circuit to the junction box.
Shockingly, even as the culprit managed to climb onto the viaduct, which is about 16-17 metres above the road level, Delhi Police and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) which guard the Metro lines between stations and the Metro stations respectively traded blame on how the theft happened. Till Tuesday evening, the police had no clue about the miscreants. Through a case had been lodged at the Indraprastha Estate police station, no one had been arrested.
Delhi Metro officials, who claimed the damage seemed intentional, couldn’t rectify the problem as the length of the missing cable was too long to be repaired during service hours. As a result, trains running towards Dwarka had to crawl at a cautionary speed of 25kmph between Pragati Maidan and Mandi House stations, where the damaged junction box is located.
Commuters complained of travel time increasing drastically. Pallavi Tandon, who travels by the Blue line daily, said her usual 20-minute journey took two hours on Monday. “It took me two hours to reach Pragati Maidan station from Noida City Centre…This is the worst journey I have ever taken on the Metro,” she said.
Radhika Kashyap, who was travelling from Noida Sector-15 to Pragati Maidan had a similar tale to tell. According to her the train was as crowded as it is during peak hours, at four in the afternoon. “The train stopped at the Yamuna Bank station for 15 minutes and we were not even told why,” she added.
Sharat Sharma, Director (Operations), has constituted a three member fact-finding committee comprising senior officers to investigate the matter, a Metro official said. “Cable theft cannot be ruled out as the reason for the fault,” the official added.
Senior police officials said the matter was being looked into. “We are waiting for the case to come to us after which we will investigate the matter. The Metro lines are either overground or underground and can only be accessed through the stations. Last week, we caught a man walking on the tracks at Rajeev Chowk. We have asked CISF to tighten security at the entry points,” said B S Gujjar, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime and Railways).
A CISF spokesperson, meanwhile, said all Metro installations between stations are guarded by Delhi police and the theft happened under their jurisdiction.
Till end of services on Monday, trains going towards Dwarka ran behind schedule. “Three additional trains were run between Indraprastha station and Dwarka to accommodate peak hour rush. Announcements were also made at stations to advise commuters about train movement,” a DMRC spokesman said.
“Trains had to run at 25kmph as the automatic train protection (ATP) system was not active due to the missing cable,” the official said. DMRC was forced to operate trains on a single line and on manual mode between the two stations. “Due to manual operation, the trains were run with a frequency of 10-20 minutes on this stretch. To maintain routine frequency of five minutes on entire Line-3, short loop services were introduced between Indraprastha and Dwarka Sector 9. All other lines remained unaffected,” the Metro spokesperson added.