On saturday, in an unprecedented move, the government decided to shut the Airport Express Line which connects the airport to the capital for a month until August.
A private concessionaire led by Reliance Infrastructure runs the 23 km-long line, which is the first high-speed corridor in the country. However, the suspension of operations for over a month has much to do with the civil work, which was done by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). Mangu Singh, DMRC chief, was in charge of the civil work and had even finalised terms and conditions with the private investors for the project.
The Express line ferries nearly 15,000 passengers every day. “We have to stop the service for commuter safety. By the end of August, we expect the line to be functional again. We have full confidence that the line will be restored after a month,” Sudhir Krishna, Urban Development Secretary and chairman of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said.
Reliance Infrastructure had reported that there were some defects in the civil structure and insisted that the operations should be suspended till the repair work goes on, he added. “The speed of Metro trains was being lowered for quite some time,” said sources. The Metro, which has been designed to run at a speed of 120 kmph, has never touched this speed. According to insiders, serious lapses have been found in the civil work. “Had we gone ahead with the operation, there could have been a Jamrudpur like-incident, where pillars crashed, in 2010. It is a good decision. Civil work has been found unsatisfactory at around 200 points. It is serious at some locations. So, we did not want to put public life in danger,” a top DMRC official said.
A team of directors from DMRC, Railways and Reliance Infra will inspect and carry out the repair work. It will also fix lapses. A report will be submitted within 10 days.