The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), with its track record of finishing projects well within time, is set to miss its deadline for the Indraprastha-Noida section. The Noida section, which was to be operational by June 2009, will only be made operational in October 2009, four months behind schedule.
The Delhi Metro's expansion plan has been derailed by the non-availability of coaches.
The 15-kilometre-long Indraprastha-Noida section is expected to cater to lakhs of people living in prominent east Delhi localities like Mayur Vihar phase I and II, IP Extension, Patparganj, East End Apartments and various sectors of Noida.
According to senior DMRC officials, there are not enough trains available to make new sections operational. Officials said the existing lines were already over-crowded and their first priority is to ease congestion on those lines.
“There have been persistent demands from metro users to add more coaches to the existing trains and start new trains on three existing sections. We have placed a huge order for metro trains. The initial few trains will be rolled out on existing lines. Those which come later would be used on new lines,” DMRC spokesperson Anuj Dayal said.
According to Dayal, the Indraprastha-Noida section needs at least 15 trains (60 coaches) to maintain a frequency of a train every six minutes. It is because of non-availability of metro coaches that alternate trains between Vishwavidyalaya station and Central Secretariat have been extended up to Jehangipuri, the latest stretch inaugurated.
“If we have sufficient number of trains available, we may open this section even in September 2009,” Dayal said.
According to officials, the DMRC will add 620 new coaches to its fleet in the next couple of years. The first instalment of eight coaches will be airlifted from Germany and delivered in India on February 26. These coaches will only be rolled out after about three months of exhaustive trials.
This is the first time that the metro is missing its deadline. The DMRC claimed to have opened two sections in its phase II — the Shahdara-Dilshad Garden section and Vishwavidyalaya-Jehangipuri section — seven months and nine months in advance.
The DMRC will also barely meet the deadline of the Yamuna Bank-Anand Vihar ISBT section, which is scheduled to be operational by December this year. DMRC officials said things would start improving in the next 3-4 months, once they start getting more coaches. A coach factory, coming up in Savli (near Vadodara) in Gujarat, is also going to roll out coaches for the metro in the Capital.
Since Delhi’s metro trains run on broad gauge, the coaches are specially designed and the entire process from planning to delivery takes almost two years. “The metro’s phase II project is planned and executed in three years. That’s why there is initial problem in getting coaches which are custom made,” said Dayal.