The first section which DMRC is going to open is Janakpuri West to Krishna Park (Representational)
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, "fresh targets" have been set for the Ph-IV project of the Delhi Metro, and the first section of a priority corridor is planned to be opened by July 2024, DMRC chief Vikas Kumar said.
In an interview to news agency PTI, Mr Kumar also said that besides the commissioning of a small 2.5-3 km segment of the Janakpuri West-R K Ashram Marg corridor, the whole Majlis Park-Maujpur corridor is planned to be opened by March 2025.
The managing director of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said the construction of the Ph-IV has brought many firsts for the country, and "beam technology-enabled TBMs" are being used in the phase to assess strata layers in advance so that "there are no surprises" during the drilling process.
The work on Ph-IV, which had begun in December 2019, was hit due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 in Delhi.
At present, the DMRC is undertaking construction work on 65.2 km of three priority corridors spanning 45 stations under the project - Janakpuri West-RK Ashram Marg (28.92 km), Majlis Park-Maujpur (12.55 km), which are extensions of the already operational Magenta Line and Pink Line, and Aerocity-Tughlakabad (23.62 km) that is being built as 'Silver Line', connecting the operational Violet Line and Airport Line from the respective ends.
"Because of COVID-19, fresh targets were set, and we are on the road to those targets. I can tell you the first section which we are going to open - Janakpuri West to Krishna Park (Extension). That is a small stretch, but we are planning to open it by July 2024. It is about 2.5-3 km in length. The next in line is the whole stretch of Majlis Park-Maujpur by March 2025," Mr Kumar told PTI.
Asked what the overall percentage of work that has been completed in this phase of Delhi Metro, the DMRC chief said, "Overall about 40 per cent of work has been done".
Official sources said the full Janakpuri West-R K Ashram Marg corridor and Aerocity-Tughlakabad corridor are expected to be commissioned by March 2026.
The DMRC had originally planned to complete the Ph-IV project by December 2024.
"I don't see any major cost overrun, due to the pandemic. But, delay, as I told you, we have already shifted the milestones," Mr Kumar said.
Asked about the current financial health of the DMRC, he said there was a huge impact on it due to the pandemic.
"We incurred losses for two years. In the third year, in fact, we were just able to break even, say, an operational surplus of around Rs 50 crore or so. Now, in the coming year, we are expecting a surplus of maybe Rs 600 cr. We are, in fact, inching back towards the normal," Mr Kumar said.
The DMRC, which started its first operations in December 2002, hopes to increase its footprints in other activities like consultancy abroad as well as in India, he said.
"We are also aggressively doing non-fare revenue business. Let's see, the future seems to be quite promising," the DMRC chief asserted.
He said the average ridership of Delhi Metro is around 64 lakh. More people are using metro services now, so it is a very good sign for the DMRC and for the National Capital Region (NCR), he added.
A senior official said the pre-Covid ridership (journeys or line utilisation) was about 60 lakh.
The Delhi Metro on September 4 had registered the highest-ever count of daily passenger journeys - 71.03 lakh.
"Ridership amounts to about 70 per cent of our revenues. Other than this, we are also going for non-fare revenues, how to collect more revenues, by leasing out more spaces," he added.
Kumar, who took charge as the third MD of the DMRC on April 1, 2022, said the Delhi Metro in its over two decades of journey has not only connected people but also empowered them, especially women who now travel without any sense of fear using metro services even at night.
"The most important thing is the speed with which we have developed this infrastructure. And the culture that we brought in. There may be chaos outside, but inside people are disciplined... they are proud of the system, they own the system. This is one of our greatest achievements," he said.
When asked about DMRC's major achievements, he said there have been many milestones as the Delhi Metro has been a pioneer in bringing in many technologies from its inception.
"We brought contactless tokens and contactless cards for the first time in India. We were again pioneers in getting carbon credits out of our regenerative braking. And 35 per cent of our energy requirements come through solar energy. Unmanned train operations we brought on for the first time in India," the DMRC chief asserted.
DMRC train operations in unmanned train operation (UTO) mode are running on Magenta Line and Pink Line currently. However, train attendants also sit during operations with a plan to make the train operation fully unmanned in future.
"Right now, a train attendant is sitting, but we are in advanced stages... because to remove that we need approval of the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety. Our teams are working on that and we will be doing it shortly," Mr Kumar said.
He said that in Ph-4, operations will be UTO-enabled, initially with train attendants. This will also be done for all future lines of the DMRC, the official added.
Asked if the Delhi Metro plans to make a foray into the NCR beyond Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad and Gurugram, in the future, the top official of the DMRC said, "Our next priority would be the three balance corridors of Ph-IV and improving connectivity further in the region, first."
The other three proposed corridors which have not yet been approved by the Union Cabinet are Rithala-Bawana-Narela, Inderlok-Indraprastha and Lajpat Nagar-Saket G Block.
"The Inderlok-Indraprastha and Lajpat Nagar-Saket G Block corridors are in advanced stages of approval, and we are awaiting the cabinet nod. The third proposed corridor will be extended till Kundli (in Haryana). Its DPR is in very advanced stages, and we would be submitting it to MoHUA for their appraisal," the DMRC chief said.
Mr Kumar, a 1988-batch officer of the Indian Railway Traffic Service, also touched upon the multi-modal transport systems that Indian Railways, Delhi Metro and the Regional Rapid Rail Transit System (RRTS) will bring in.
A 17-km priority corridor of the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut RRTS corridor was recently inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Wherever RRTS stations are coming up near our stations, we are going to develop a seamless passenger interchange, so that they can easily interchange between RRTS and Metro. And, also with Indian Railways, at Sarai Kake Khan, we will have an interchange with Indian railways also," he added.
Mr Kumar said the DMRC is also a forerunner when it comes to 'Atmanirbharta' and it already has the i-ATS (indigenous-Automatic Train Supervision System).
"As a second step, we are now going in for a complete signalling system, i-CBTC (Communication-Based Train Control) system. And, our target is to have that system available by 2025," the DMRC chief said.
"In ATS, we have become the sixth nation in the world to have it. And, for CBTC also, we will be the sixth country in the world to have it," he added.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)