Delhi Metro in 2021: Covid wave pause; second driverless ops to join elite club
Delhi Metro's journey was halted in its tracks for nearly a month in the year gone by due to the brutal second wave of Covid but the urban transporter tackled and surmounted many challenges
Delhi Metro's journey was halted in its tracks for nearly a month in the year gone by due to the brutal second wave of Covid but the urban transporter tackled and surmounted many challenges amid the pandemic to achieve a few milestones, including running of next-generation driverless trains on its second corridor.
Driverless train operations on the 59-km Pink Line was started on November 25, putting the mass rapid transit system on fourth position globally among the networks which operate this cutting-edge technology.
While November saw a high for Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, the preceding few months for it was quite challenging, as it had to run operations with commuters being allowed with limited seating capacity, after resumption of services from June 7, post a nearly one-month long hiatus in services due to Covid restrictions imposed by authorities to check the spread of the pandemic.
DMRC services were fully suspended from May 10 in view of the Covid-induced lockdown in Delhi. It was first imposed on April 19, and successively extended by the city government. Services had run partially initially, catering only to people from the field of essential services.
Following the relaxations in norms by authorities, the Delhi Metro was running with full seating capacity from July 26, initially with no provision for standing travel for commuters, and later provision for standing was allowed with some regulations.
However, towards the fag end of the year, the rising number of Covid cases amid an Omicron scare, again prompted the government to impose fresh restrictions from December 28 onwards, under the 'yellow alert' category of the graded response action plan, devised earlier by the city government after lessening of intensity of the second wave.
Under these restrictions, Delhi Metro trains are now again running with only 50 per cent seating capacity with no provision for standing for commuters, as it was in June.
Bracketed by these challenges, the DMRC, however, continued to endeavour to achieve goals it had set for itself, and to provide better amenities and more comfortable journey to its riders.
In a first-ever mid-life overhaul of its old rolling stock, the DMRC on November 29 had unveiled its first refurbished train which was introduced into service 14 years ago as part of its Ph-I network.
This exercise is part of a special drive undertaken by the Delhi Metro to retrofit and upgrade to modern standards all 70 trains which were procured by the urban transporter between 2002 and 2007, and plan is to complete refurbishment of the first set of ten trains by September 2022, a senior official said.
The first upgraded train, now equipped with LCD display, fire alarm system, CCTV cameras inside and outside coaches and in train operator's cabins, emergency button, charging socket for mobile phone and laptops including via USB cables, new flooring and redone exterior, was unveiled by DMRC's Managing Director Mangu Singh at the Yamuna Bank Depot here.
In October, Delhi Metro launched a facility that allows commuters to access internet using free high-speed WiFi at all its Yellow Line stations.
Besides, the DMRC in association with a technology consortium is working on introducing this facility inside metro trains (besides on Airport Express Line) also in a year's time, officials had said.
Prior to that in September, the Najafgarh-Dhansa Bus Stand extension of Grey Line was inaugurated, taking the mass rapid transit system further into the interior areas of Najafgarh.
And, in early August, in a major boost for Delhi Metro, a small segment of its Pink Line at Trilokpuri, which had proved a bottleneck for the DMRC authorities for a long time, was inaugurated, making it the longest operational corridor of the network.
With this, the 59-km-long Majlis Park-Shiv Vihar corridor or the Pink Line, which spans 38 stations, was fully linked for the first time.
On December 25, the DMRC also entered into the 20th year of its operations, and a special permanent exhibition -- 'Tracing Delhi Metro's Journey' -- was launched to mark the occasion.
Rare images of the very first piling work done in the national capital for building Delhi Metro and old newspaper clippings are among the archival documents which have been put up on display as part of a permanent exhibition at Kashmere Gate station of the Red Line of the network.
In 2022, the Delhi Metro which also carries on its wheels, aspirations of millions of people, will be watching the trajectory of this pandemic, with equal anxiety and hope.