DMRC takes over airport express line

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has formally taken over the operations of the Airport Express Line from Sunday. Putting an end to speculations about the future of the airport line, services on the 22.7 km-long corridor will commence as usual at 5:15 am on Monday.

According to the DMRC, an operations and maintenance team of 100 officials has been created. “A seven-member strong core committee of senior officials has also been formed to handle extreme emergency situations,” said a DMRC spokesperson.

Reliance Infrastructure, that was operating the airport line, withdrew from the Airport Metro Express on Sunday. The concessionaire, the Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited, wrote to the DMRC that they would stop operating the airport line from the night of June 30.

According to the DMRC, the corporation is committed to providing the best possible services to commuters. With this objective, the management has decided to invite feedback and suggestions so that the services can be further improved. Two feedback-cum-suggestion counters will be opened at the Shivaji Stadium and Dwarka Sector-21 stations from 7:30 am on Monday, the spokesperson added.

Also, commuters will be able to post their feedback and suggestions on Delhi Metro’s website–www.delhimetrorail.com.

“Based on the feedback, efforts will be made to further improve services and make it more commuter friendly,” he said.  Sources within Reliance Infrastructure said the concessionaire had to take the decision due to “material breach” of contract. “The concessionaire could never run operations smoothly. It had to stop services on the corridor at times owing to cracks in the civil structure, technical glitches and on grounds of safety,” a source said.

The country’s first public-private-partnership Metro project has had a tumultuous journey since it began operations in February, 2011. The inauguration was also delayed by five months after it missed the Commonwealth Games deadline.  The line was shut after Reliance Infrastructure complained to the Delhi Metro that cracks were noticed on the civil structures of the corridor.

The Airport Metro Line resumed services in January after being shut for six months. After the reopening, the speed was cut to 50 km per hour, extending journey time from the airport to New Delhi railway station to over 40 minutes, which resulted in a fall in ridership.

Before the suspension of services, the ridership hovered around 20,000-21,000. After the service was resumed, the ridership nearly halved to around 10,000.

The closing down of the corridor also prompted a turf war between the Delhi Metro and Reliance Infrastructure, which wanted to quit immediately.

The source said, the company had incurred huge losses and even now the ridership was very low, implying that the operation was not commercially viable.

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