New Delhi: A day after deciding to suspend operations of the 16-month-old Delhi Airport Metro Express, Government on Saturday claimed the high-speed corridor would resume services in two months time after necessary repairs, but left many questions unanswered.
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.
"The 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," Urban Development Secretary Sudhir Krishna told a press conference here.
Out of 2100 bearings on the elevated section of the corridor, nearly 230 of them need some correction or the other.
Krishna said Reliance Infra, the operator of the Line, insisted the operations should be suspended till the repairs works are done as it involves 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.
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," Banerjee said. However, Krishna and Delhi Chief Secretary PK 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.
Though the Ministry and Delhi Metro said the Line will be opened by next month, it might take a little more time as the corridor will have to be inspected by the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety once again after the repairs are made.
Delhi Metro chief Mangu Singh said the bearings, which are found to be defective, are a "small but crucial and significant part" with regard to safety aspect.
"The Airport Metro was a unique experiment and 99 per cent of our structures are intact. The bearing may be small when it comes to monetary aspect, but it is a significant issue with regard to safety," he said.
The committee will revisit the whole alignment on the corridor and suggest appropriate solutions that would be carried out.
Krishna termed the Reliance Infra`s decision as "good" and said the inquiry will find out why the defect had occurred.
"I agree that the construction should last for at least 100 years and it would last. There are problems with bearings in certain locations. Trains cannot operate with this and this is not the happiest of the happy situation," the Secretary said.
He also the contractor firm IJM is likely to bear the liability cost.
Delhi Chief Secretary Tripathi said the repairs would be completed in the shortest possible time and said Airport Metro is not the only means of reaching the Airport.
"There are a number of ways to reach Airport. Public safety is paramount and let us have faith in the concessionaire. We should not give a knee-jerk reaction," he said.
Both Krishna and Tripathi rejected suggestions that the PPP mode was a failure in all fronts.