A day after deciding to suspend operations of the 16-month-old Delhi Airport Metro Express, the Government today claimed the high-speed corridor would resume services in two months time after necessary repairs, but left many questions unanswered.
The Union Urban Development Ministry, the Delhi Government, Delhi Metro and Reliance Infrastructure were at odds to explain the decision to suspend operations for an indefinite period on the 23-km line owing to faults in civil structure on the corridor where trains are run at a speed of 105 kmph.
A committee comprising officials from the Indian Railways, Delhi Metro and Reliance Infrastructure is already going into the nature of defects and would submit a report within the next 10 days after which rectification works would be carried out.
“Reliance Infrastructure reported that there are some defects in the civil structure. There are problems with the bearing, which is the interface between the pillar and girder. Repairs have to be done below the girders and it is in odd kind of locations,” the Urban Development Secretary, Mr Sudhir Krishna, told a press conference here.
Out of 2,100 bearings on the elevated section of the corridor, nearly 230 need some correction or the other.
Mr Krishna said Reliance Infra, the operator of the line, insisted the operations should be suspended till the repairs works are done as it involves the safety of passengers.
“By the end of August, we expect the line to be functional again,” he said in response to a volley of questions.
Mr Sumit Banerjee, CEO, Infrastructure of Reliance Infra, admitted that the corridor was not making profits, but they would continue to run the line and would not close it down.
“This decision is purely linked with safety,” Mr Banerjee said.
However, Mr Krishna and the Delhi Chief Secretary, Mr P. K. Tripathi, were evasive on who will bear the cost of repairs works to be carried out. While Reliance Infra operates and maintains the corridor, the civil structure was built by Delhi Metro.
The service on the line will be closed with effect from 5:30 am on July 8, Sunday.
Reliance Infrastructure may be able to demand compensation from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) for the period for which the Airport Metro services are closed.
DMRC operates the largest metro network with a peak daily ridership of 20 lakh passengers a day.
Operational for just over a year, the airport express line connects Central Delhi with the Indira Gandhi International airport — operated by GMR — in just 20 minutes, and charges a premium fare for the service. It has already clocked 8800 hours of operation and carried 68 lakh passengers. It also offers baggage check-in services, like the metros in Honk Kong and London.