Airport Metro gets safety clearance, to reopen shortly

After being shut for six months, Reliance Infrastructure-run Delhi Airport Metro Express would be back on track soon but with a drastically-reduced train speed of 50 km per hour.

Updated: Jan 18, 2013, 23:44 PM IST

New Delhi: After being shut for six months, Reliance Infrastructure-run Delhi Airport Metro Express would be back on track soon but with a drastically-reduced train speed of 50 km per hour.

The 23-km Line connecting Connaught Place with the Terminal-3 of IGI Airport would no more be a high-speed corridor with the train speed being reduced to as low as 50 km per hour from 105 km per hour on which trains were run for over a year.

Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety R K Kardam cleared the corridor for train operations with riders on speed and other issues, raising questions yet again on the construction of the corridor which is the first public-private-partnership Metro project in India.

Though resumption of services would bring smiles on the faces of commuters, an 18-20 minute journey from Connaught Place to the Terminal 3 of IGI Airport will hitherto take at least 30 to 35 minutes, effectively failing the purpose of a high-speed corridor.

The corridor was shut in July last year after Reliance Infra complained to the Delhi Metro that cracks have been noticed on civil structures of the corridor. Delhi Metro completed the civil structure and handed it over to Reliance Infra for operations in 2010.

After a two-day inspection on Tuesday and Wednesday, CMRS R K Kardam gave the much-awaited nod this evening in a letter sent to the Delhi Metro and Reliance Infrastructure.

Sources said the letter says trains can be run at a speed of 50 km per hour after fulfilling requirements specified by the CMRS, the competent authority.

Trains on the corridor were run at 105 km per hour till July 8, 2012 when the operations were shut down. Originally, the Delhi Metro and Reliance Infra promised a speed of 120 km per hour but the CMRS had fixed a speed limit of 105 km per hour when he gave the nod in 2011.

There was no word on when the Line would resume operations and Reliance Infra refused to comment on the development.

The reduction of speed comes a big blow for both Delhi Metro and Reliance Infra which have been claiming that trains can be run at a maximum of 120 km per hour.

Problems were also noticed in the clippings used in the underground section of the corridor. It is believed that the train speed can be increased only when the clipping issue is rectified.

The problems on the civil structure also led the Reliance Infrastructure offer to quit the Line citing financial non- viability.

Reliance Infrastructure-led Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL) sent a notice for terminating the concession agreement signed between the two, thereby exiting the corridor.

But, Delhi Metro rejected the offer and the same is now referred to arbitration.
DAMEPL has been struggling to run the line ever since the operations were launched in February 2012 and operations were suspended on July 8 after defects were found on civil structure.

Since then, the DMRC and DAMEPL have been at loggerheads over the corridor and a letter war between the two seems to have culminated with a communication from DAMEPL in early October that they want to terminate the Concession Agreement.

It is learnt that DAMEPL raised several issues regarding the financial non-viability of the country's first PPP Metro project with the Delhi Metro and even sought for some restructuring of the model under which the corridor was being run.

With Agency Inputs