The ‘Delhi Vs Mumbai/Kolkata/Pune etc.’ debate has continued to engage youngsters (and sometimes elders) since years now. As a Delhiite, I can think of many things to boast about my city. But one factor that is sure to bring a Delhiite up by many points in that debate is the Delhi metro.
Regularly used yet routinely overlooked is the metro network in Delhi that runs across the city, covering a wide area and still expanding to include even more in its map. Christmas day in 2002 saw the first corridor between Shahdara and Tis Hazari, a five-station ride, which is so amusing today. Since then, it has spread its reach to today include 213 kms of rail lines and over 160 stations. Here’s something that you might not have known: the Delhi metro trains reportedly covers roughly 69,000 kms every day; the clincher? The earth’s circumference is about 40,075 kms!
Interesting people associated with the metro
To start with, the Metro Man, E. Shridharan, who led the DMRC project during 1995 – 2012. The soothing voices over the loudspeaker in the trains belong to Rini Simon Khanna (English) and Shammi Narang (Hindi). Contrary to what you might have thought, the Rajiv Chowk metro station is named not after Gandhi, but after Goswami, a student who protested against implementation of the Mandal Commission’s recommendations on job reservations. And finally, Maitree, Juli Devi’s daughter, who was delivered in a metro train on July 22, 2012, and was subsequently declared the mascot of the Delhi metro.
A comparison with other cities
The Kolkata metro, which was inaugurated as early as 1984, today covers only about 120 kms. The Bangalore metro (launched in 2011) and the Mumbai metro (started in 2014) have both drawn inspiration from the one in Delhi. In that sense, though Kolkata metro is the oldest, Delhi’s is definitely accepted as the most reliable. You might also be surprised to know that the fares of the metro have not changed since 2009: rates still range between INR 8 – 30! It is also one of the few public transport systems in the world that has managed to stay profitable overall despite a few stumbling blocks in between; in 2014 – 15, it registered a profit of almost INR 10.5 lakhs, up by about 500 lakhs from the previous year.
Superlatives and exceptions
The deepest point within the network is the Airport Express line below the Rajiv Chowk station at a depth of 45 m. The Chhatarpur metro station, which was constructed in as little as nine months, is the only one in the network to be completely made of steel. Patel Chowk is home to the first ever South Asian Metro Museum which was opened in 2009; an interested party can visit it to get their hands on almost any information about the Delhi Metro.
The fastest metro line in the country
The first PPP in the country that was awarded to Reliance was the 22.7-km Airport Express line covering a total of six stations. It is the first South Asian line to have check-in facility outside an airport. Launched in 2011, it can take you from New Delhi to Terminal 3 (five stations) in as little as 18 minutes with trains reaching speeds of up to 135 kmph (as opposed to 80 kmph on the rest of the network).
Giving back to the environment and the society
The Delhi metro has a lot to show that it is highly environment-friendly: it was recognised by the UN as the first rail-based system to actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions (it reportedly brings down pollution levels of the city by up to 6,30,000 tonnes annually. The DMRC has invested in rainwater harvesting along the length of the blue line. Though there is no dustbin to be found anywhere within the network except in some shops, the system is one of the cleanest places you will have seen in the city. At Tis Hazari station, the metro has collaborated with Salaam Balak, an NGO, to set up a residential care facility for homeless boys.