By Pradeep Gaur/Mint

By Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Safety concerns derail airport express metro line

Safety concerns derail airport express metro line

Just 16 months after starting operations, the services on the airport line of the Delhi Metro—the fastest Metro link in the country—were suspended indefinitely by its operator Reliance Infrastructure Ltd, citing safety defects in the civil structure. The suspension of services on the airport line, which used to carry almost 15,000 passengers every day and connected Dwarka Sector 21 to the New Delhi railway station, will mean increased traffic on the roads leading to the Indira Gandhi International airport, including the already over-burdened Delhi-Gurgaon expressway. It will also increase the traffic on the Metro line connecting Dwarka to Rajiv Chowk (called the blue line). A short history of the project:

By Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Sep 2007: DMRC awards the first tenders for building the railway line

23 Jan 2008: DMRC awards a 30-year build-operate-transfer contract to the Reliance Energy-led consortium with the Spanish railway equipment maker Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles

Mar 2009: Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt. Ltd, a special-purpose vehicle floated by Reliance Infrastructure Ltd (R-Infra) to build the airport line, says it has managed to raise the debt required for the project

Nov 2009: DMRC completes 95% of the tunnelling and civil construction on the line and prepares to hand over the stations to concessionaire R-Infra for laying tracks

31 Aug 2010: The airport line misses the first deadline to begin operations, but R-Infra is given a one-month extension on account of delays in handing over the stations by DMRC

30 Sep: The line fails to get the mandatory safety clearance from the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety (India), or CMRS. DMRC slaps a fine of 37.5 lakh per day from 30 September on R-Infra for missing the deadline

10 Jan 2011: CMRS grants safety clearance to the airport line, except for the Dhaula Kuan and Delhi Aerocity stations

23 Feb: The airport line starts its first train services from New Delhi railway station to terminal T3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport

15 Aug: CMRS grants safety clearance to Dhaula Kuan and Delhi Aerocity stations

Dec 2011: DMRC managing director E. Sreedharan meets R-Infra executives to discuss the areas that need improvement, particularly the train coaches

May 2012: DMRC chief Mangu Singh expresses dissatisfaction with the operation of the line by R-Infra and concern over its business model

Jun 2012: DMRC asks consultants Shirish Patel and Associates to conduct an inspection of the line due to safety concerns, after the operator reduces the speed of the trains from 105 kmph

7 Jul 2012: The operator of the airport line suspends services indefinitely for safety repairs. The ministry of urban development constitutes a committee to investigate the defects in the civil construction of the railway line