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Delhi Metro: Steep rise in ridership beats network expansion

delhi metro mess Updated: Oct 07, 2015 14:38 IST
Faizan Haidar
Faizan Haidar
Hindustan Times
Delhi Metro

Crowd at the Rajiv Chowk metro station during the rush hours in New Delhi, India, on Monday.(Saumya Khandelwal/HT Photo)

Thirteen years after it was launched to cover a stretch of 8.5km, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has a network of about 190km with 151 stations. But even as the Metro network is expanding, passenger problems are rising.

When the 8.5km Metro line between Shahdara and Tis Hazari was inaugurated to make travel smoother and faster, the ticketing system collapsed as the line was crowded four times its capacity.

The situation has come back to haunt the system with most lines packed beyond capacity during peak hours.

When Metro services were introduced, the average ridership was 80,000 passengers per day. It has risen to 26 lakh per day.

Despite trains making 2,800 trips per day, passengers complain of crowded stations and coaches. According to DMRC officials, adding more coaches has become impossible as they have already procured more coaches than projected in the detailed project reports.

Sources said commuters would have to bear the brunt of congestion for another year as DMRC hopes to ease the congestion by making phase III operational.

Phase III, with a route length of 136.08km and 90 stations, will become begin operations by mid-2016.

The problem of over-crowding started around 2010 when the ridership rose to around 11 lakh but the expansion of the network couldn’t keep pace with the rush. “Average ridership of DMRC has increased by 156% in five years but the network remains the same. On an average, we are carrying 26 lakh passengers every day but the route length has increased only marginally. In August, on a single day, we carried 32 lakh passengers and this is only going to increase. We can only add more coaches and we have already placed the orders but the procurement process takes time. However, through various efforts we manage to clear the crowd on time and during peak hours we maintain the frequency of three minutes on almost every line,” said Sharat Sharma, director (operations) of DMRC.

Delhi Metro has about 220 trains of four, six and eight coaches totalling 1,290 coaches. “There are 421 coaches that are in the pipeline and after adding them, our performance will improve further,” Sharma added.

During this financial year, DMRC on an average pressed 1,083 coaches in an hour (during peak hour). In 2012-13, the number was 819.

By increasing the number of trains, DMRC hoped to reduce the waiting time further. Through various measures on the Rithala-Dilshad Garden line, the frequency during peak hour has been reduced from 3.35minutes to 3.10 minutes. The best frequency is on the Jahangirpuri-HUDA City Centre line at 2.08 minutes during peak hour.

“In March 2013, the frequency on Gurgaon line was 2.38 minutes but we reduced it to 2.15 minutes in July this year and further to 2.08 minutes in August,” said a DMRC official.

DMRC officials said, apart from resources, it focuses on improving the overall customer experience.