The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is not likely to reduce fares on its airport line anytime soon.
The DMRC that took over the operation and maintenance of the airport line from the Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt Ltd (DAMEPL), a subsidiary of Reliance Infrastructure, over a month ago is not ready to reduce fares till it settles the financial liabilities it inherited from the previous operator.
“We have a huge debt burden. We are making massive losses. Until the load of these liabilities comes down significantly, we will not be able to reduce fares,” said Sharat Sharma, director (operations), DMRC.
The high-speed Metro trains connect New Delhi with Dwarka via IGI airport on the 22.7km corridor, which was made operational in February 2011. At present, a ride to Terminal 3 of the Delhi airport from the New Delhi Metro station costs R150 for each ticket, while a ride to Dwarka Sector 21 comes to R180.On July 1, right after taking over the project, the DMRC had constituted a commuters’ feedback survey with a promise to make the service financial viable and commuters-friendly.
As per the survey report, most of the commuters had demanded a significant reduction of fare. The other key suggestions offered by the commuters included an increase in speed and frequency and connectivity with Terminal 1 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport. According to them, implementation of these suggestions would make the service viable and boost the commuter base. Presently, around 10,000 to 12,000 commuters travel by the airport Metro every day.
Exactly a month after taking over, the DMRC had increased the speed of trains from 70kmph to 80kmph and brought peak hour frequency down to 4.30 minutes. It had also planned to connect airport metro’s Dhaula Kuan station with the airport’s Terminal 1 via a skywalk.
According to sources, DMRC spends approximately a sum of Rs. 23.5 crore (Rs 7.5 crore to operate trains and Rs. 16 crore as liability of loans) a month to operate the service and earns only Rs. 3 to Rs. 4 crore from the service.