15 years of Delhi Metro: Volume of trains, passengers a challenge now, says Mangu Singh
Despite his vast experience, Delhi Metro managing director Mangu Singh says every station is a new challenge and he enjoys working when the situation is difficultdelhi Updated: Dec 25, 2017 15:57 IST
Mangu Singh, who succeeded Metro Man E Sreedharan, is considered an expert in tunnel engineering. He joined the Delhi Metro a month after Sreedharan became its managing director in 1997. Singh took over from him on January 1, 2012.
Singh, an IIT Roorkee graduate, had joined as the chief engineer, later became the executive director and then director (works) before being appointed as the MD. Singh has also been instrumental in preparing the Master Plan and Detailed Project Reports for Metro system in other cities of the country.
Despite his vast experience, Singh says every station is a new challenge and he enjoys working when the situation is difficult. Here are some excerpts from his interview:
You have been associated with DMRC since the beginning. What changes you have seen in 15 years?
In 2002, the difficulty was that for the first time we started operation of a very modern metro railway system in the country. And therefore, there was lack of know-how. Today, the challenge is volume — the network has grown to 217km, ridership is more than 25-26 lakh, number of stations, trains, coaches everything has grown. The sheer volume is a challenge.
Did you expect the project to become so popular when you started in 2002?
There was a time in the beginning when people were very critical. They said metro will not be popular and Delhi is not suitable for this. So we were cautious as far as projection is concerned. Then, the time came when traffic became more and more. Today we are in a situation where traffic is more than what we had projected.
Another thing was that since our network is beyond Delhi, our average trip length is much more.
The average journey of a passenger in Delhi metro is 16-17km. We expected 6-7km. Passengers are staying in our system for longer time. Worldwide average trip length is not as high as ours. Most are in the range of 7-8km.
Delhi Metro was recently in news over fare hike. Do you think it has dented the image of organisation as a number of passengers have opted out of the system?
We are still very well patronized. We are still carrying 25 lakh passengers every day. As far as the fare increase is concerned, the DMRC has made it clear many times that fare fixation mechanism is inbuilt in the metro act. DMRC hardly has any role in it.
In terms of construction activity, how have things changed?
There are two things, first the technology is improving day by day, there is no doubt. What is more important, actually, is ease of construction. In Phase 1 between DU and Kashmere Gate, we were able to block the road almost completely. That option is not available today because of increase in traffic and public expectation.
I enjoy underground constructions as every station is itself a challenge. Underground everywhere is different while elevated is almost same. I really enjoy solving those technical problems.
There was a phase in 2008-09 when a series of accidents took place. How difficult was it?
Those were difficult times, we have learned a lot from those two accidents at the construction site, therefore we resolved it in Phase 3, and our record is very good. Though construction sites are very risky, we have reasonably done very well in Phase 3. We strengthened our safety procedures and plugged the loopholes in Phase 3.