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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Decade of being a metro

Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 04, 2013
First Published: 01:00 IST(4/2/2013) | Last Updated: 02:14 IST(4/2/2013)

It's been ten years since Metro changed Delhi forever - the way people live, they travel, they aspire and uniting NCR towns with the Capital.

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Alittle more than a decade ago, on December 24, 2002, the first Delhi Metro train started its journey from the Shahdara station to Tis Hazari station. It was an 8.5 km journey on a showpiece section by what was still seen as a swank, glitzy novelty. The Metro today is a way of life for Delhiites. It has not only changed the way we travel and calculate distance but also how we behave in public space.

Delhi Metro came into our lives when public transport meant rickety, unreliable DTC buses or killer private buses. The only other option was rapacious autowallahs and those who could buy one, preferred private vehicles. Today over two million people use Delhi Metro. In fact, it was Metro that integrated Delhi with NCR cities - Noida, Ghaziabad and Gurgaon, dissolving state borders.

As Delhi completed 10 years of being a 'metro',  we take a look at Delhi Metro's decade-long journey - its achievements, milestones, highs and lows and the future. Delhi metro map

Life after Metro
Gurgaon student who could join a North Campus college
Hitesh Arora: It was a dream come true for Hitesh Arora, 20, a resident of Shivaji Nagar in Gurgaon, when he got admission to DU's Kirori Mal College. He started driving to his college but his parents lost their peace of mind. He was penalised twice for talking over his phone while driving. His parents, however, didn't have to worry once Metro reached Gurgaon.

Girl from Sitaram Bazar who could go out to work
Megha Kumari: Megha Kumari, 21, was born and brought up in Walled city's Sitaram Bazar area. Despite having a professional computer certificate she was not able to go out to work since her parents were worried about her safety. Once her parents saw how safe Metro was, they allowed her to join a job at a hospital in Jhilmil, east Delhi.

Couple who met on Metro
Ginni & Vishal Malhotra: Matches are made in heaven, theirs was made in Metro. Ginni worked in a private company at Laxmi Nagar and Vishal Malhotra at Palika Bazaar when they first met on the Metro in March 2008. Ginni would take the same seat in the train and steal glances with Vishal. They became good friends and soon got hitched.

Pillars are the new address
Ajit Singh: Two years ago, when Ajit Singh and Rakesh Kumar opened their eatery, Tummyy Tull, they wanted to be different - and that too not only in terms of mouthwatering rolls. "We wanted an easy address. So we used the nearest landmark - the Metro pillar - as the address," says Ajit Today, the establishment stands tall with a board atop which reads: 55/2, Opposite Pillar No. 191, South Patel Nagar Market.

The officer who stopped using his car
VK Sinha: VK Sinha, a senior police officer, stopped driving from his Kaka Nagar residence in New Delhi to Gurgaon and thought of trying out the Metro. "Metro is more convenient and I stay fresh and reach office on time which is not possible while commuting by car due to traffic jams etc," he said. "I leave home at 8.30am, take a bus or an auto to the Jor Bagh Metro station and reach office by 9.30am."

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Metro quirks

Please adjust
Metro has customized steel bucket seats so that passengers can sit comfortably. There is, however, no technology available to take care of the 'thoda adjust kar lo' crowd, those who would ask you to shift slightly so they can park themselves in the smallest space possible.

That's ingenious
Metro's escalators have special 'Sari guards' on each side to deflect any loose clothing from getting stuck in the moving plates. Delhiites have found an ingenious use for it - shoe shining. Men could be seen planting their feet on the edges against the bristles to brush their shoes.

Always in a hurry
People waiting for a train at a busy station like Kashmere Gate or Rajiv Chowk might resemble those boarding the last flight out of a war-torn country. Everyone would rush in to get that elusive seat, even if they have to get down after two stations.

I am a music lover
Some Metro commuters make no secret of their love of music. Take a late evening train and you would get a slice of music ranging from bhajans to Yo Yo Honey Singh blaring out of a smart phone of a fellow passenger.

Advisors galore
Delhiites love to give directions, even if they don't know themselves. The same applies to the Metro. Just ask for the correct route to reach your destination and see a crowd of advisors gather. With Metro now crisscrossing Delhi NCR, there is sometimes more than one way of reaching a place. The infrequent would be the first to suggest the route but the last word would come from the regulars, who would calmly tell you the shortest one, even if it means changing more than three trains.

Movies shot at Metro Premises
* November 2003: 'Bewafa' starring Anil Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Manoj Vajpayee, Akshay Kumar
* November 2006: 'Black & White' directed by Subhash Ghai starring Anil Kapoor
* April 2008: 'Dev D' directed by Anurag Kashyap, starring Abhay Deol
* June 2008: 'Dilli-6' directed by Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra, starring Abhishek Bachchan and Sonam Kapoor
* October 2008: 'Love Aaj Kal' directed by Imtiaz Ali, starring Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone:
* May 2009: 'Paa' directed by R Balki, starring Amitabh Bachchan

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Why It is world-class

* Delhi Metro stations are one of the most spacious, well-ventilated and well-lit in the world.

* At 3.2 metres, Delhi Metro coaches are wider than other world Metros. The steel bucket seats are more spacious and allow privacy. Also, unlike other Metros, the seats are on the sides, providing better passenger movement.

* Metro's coaches are light weight and fire resistant with interiors that are scratch-proof and built for Indian conditions.

* All Delhi Metro coaches are air-conditioned, a facility that metros in other countries don't offer.

* It is world's first metro to introduce single journey contact less token. It also has automatic token vending machines and latest automatic fare collection system. Milestones

* It is one of the few Metro networks in the world that offers mobile connectivity at the underground sections.

* Delhi Metro is fully resistant to earthquakes of the intensity up to 7 to 7.5 on the Richter scale.

* Breakdown rate in Delhi Metro is low as compared to many metro networks across the world.

* DMRC is one of the few metro systems in the world to offer parking facilities for private vehicles.

* Delhi Metro is India's first train system which is digitally run and connected to a central server.

Metro trivia
Ever since Delhi Metro started its operations in 2002, it has maintained a 99 per cent punctuality rate of running trains.

Though Metro now provides reusable plastic tokens and smart cards to commuters, it started commercial operations in 2002 by issuing paper tickets. The paper tickets were discontinued after about a year.

The highest point of the Delhi Metro is at Karkardooma crossing in East Delhi, where it crosses the Karkardooma flyover -19 metres above the ground, about as tall as a six-storey building.

The deepest station in the metro system is Chawri Bazar with a depth of 25 metre, almost one third the height of Qutab Minar.

Maitree (meaning friendship), more famous as the Metro baby, was born in a Metro coach on July 22, 2012 when her mother was on her way to a hospital for a pre-delivery check up. DMRC has proposed to appoint the girl as Metro's mascot.

Perhaps the only thing about Delhi Metro that is not modern are the clocks at its stations. Though Metro stations were supposed to have digital clocks, then Managing Director E Sreedharan, a former Konkan Railway official, insisted that the clocks should be like those on railway stations.

By 2021, Delhi Metro promises to be within 500 metre radius of every residential colony in the Capital. By then, it would surpass the London Tube to become the second largest Metro system of the world, after Tokyo.

The Chattarpur Metro station is the only station in the network that is made completely of steel. After being delayed due to land acquisition issues and with the deadline for 2010 Commonwealth Games to meet, this station was constructed in record time.

Delhi Metro has lost about Rs. 6 crore in the last four years due to loss of tokens.

Nearly 70% of Metro commuters now use smart cards instead of queuing up to buy a token. The figure was merely 10 per cent when it started operations 10 years ago.

DMRC is the only metro system in the world to be certified by the UN to get carbon credits for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution level in the city.

Metro trends
Metro replaced U-Specials: From the uncomfortable and fickle U-Special bus service to the air-conditioned and super fast Delhi Metro, the way Delhi University students travel has certainly changed over the past 10 years. U-Specials have all but vanished from the city with students being a large chunk of those who comprise the daily ridership of the Metro.

Metro replaced L-Specials: The concept of exclusive space for female passengers in public transport first came about in the 1980s when Delhi Transport Corporation introduced L-Special in the early 1990s. Delhi Metro initially reserved four seats in each coach of the metro for women. Later, it turned the first coach of each train into a 'Ladies Special'

Revived CP: Just when everyone thought that Connaught Place has lost its sheen to glitzy malls and its central park allured only drug addicts, Metro entered the scene and Connaught Place became the place to be once again. The footfall in CP has increased manifold after Metro started operations.

Chandni Chowk got new visitors: For most Delhiites who don't live in the Walled City, it was an exotic place that promised great food and greater bargains in clothes, jewellery, electronics, etc. Only a few, however, were willing to brave its narrow and congested lanes. All that changed after Metro reached the Walled City. The footfall at Chandni Chowk went up by 60%.

Dwarka became habitable: Before it became a desirable address, the Delhi Development Authority built sub-city Dwarka was known as Pappankalan and hardly anyone moved to live there. All that changed in 2005 when Metro reached Dwarka and property prices rocketed. The journey from Dwarka to central Delhi is now a comfortable, air-conditioned 45 minute trip.

Rajouri Garden gets glitzy malls Najafgarh Road might not sound as sleek as MG Road but thanks to the Metro, it has become the destination of choice for mall hoppers in the last few years. Never considered as hip as south Delhi, west Delhi has seen a boom of new malls after Metro reached the area six years ago and the frontrunner is Rajouri Garden, where five malls came up right next to the Metro station here even before train services started.

Metro helped tourism: Ever heard of 'Badli Ki Sarai', a late-Mughal era gateway at Pipalthala in north Delhi? Since 2009, heritage lovers have been able to reach it after Adarsh Nagar metro station came up. Several of the hundreds of monuments in Delhi have got an unexpected boost of visitors, thanks to a metro station in their neighbourhood.

Replaced call centre cabs: With the advent of Metro in Gurgaon, most BPOs and call centers located here are encouraging their employees to use the Metro, which reduces the cost of deploying fleets of private cabs. Many BPOs have also installed metro card recharge kiosks inside office and give incentives to encourage use of metro. Many companies are also providing shuttle bus services from nearest metro stations.


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