Delhi metro: a world class engineering feat
The first thing that you notice as you enter the national capital, either from hazrat nizzamudin or from the Indira Gandhi airport is the elevated and electrified tracks of the delhi metro. The former chairman of the konkan railway corporation has worked magic again by completing this infrastructure challenge right in the heart of the capital ahead of schedule. The work of phase 3 and 4 are progressing at steady rates and when the mammoth project is completed in 2011 it will be larger than the London metro in size.
Quite contrary to the Indian stereotype, the whole network is world class and can be considered one of the best. As i was staying in karol bagh one of the busiest markets in delhi a short walk from my place of stay with guidelines by locals took me to the karol bagh station of the metro. It is an elevated portion of the track. Multiple escalators take you to the elevated station. Ticket system is token or card and you have to show it to a card reader which will open an automated gate which gives you access to the platforms. This system virtually eliminates ticket less travel or traveling with expired passes which is so ubiquitous in the mumbai metro. The most striking thing is a customer care center in each station. It was the good mannered person in that office who recommended me to take a ticket to indraprastha, which was five stations away and which would take me through both underground and elevated sections of the track, when i told him that i was a tourist and i just wanted to get the feel of the metro. Al though the ticket reader is a bit of a headache for the novice, the platforms are quite easy to interpret as each of them took you in different directions. The train came smoothly into the station. Contrary to Mumbai metro which has cabs protruding into the platform, there is a small gap between the cab and the platform.
I went in through the automated doors. The doors closed and the train started moving in a few seconds. The cab was completely air conditioned. As it went in a straight route it had no pilot or any other railway staff. The cabins were spacious and quite comfortable. A voice announcement system gave warnings and information regarding the approaching stations. The night view of the city from the elevated track was beautiful. Opposite to this the underground section offered no view but it was a good experience traveling for the first time. With no interesting view outside i looked inside the cabin to see the home going people after a days tiring work. How much better and relieving would it be for them to travel so fast home without the noise and smell of the busy city. In the Indian scenario it is always the journey back home that is the most tiring thanks to our outdated transport network. It would be so better for the city folk to tarvel so comfortably in ac cabs, something that an ordinary citizen would not have dreamt 10 years back. In less than 15 minutes i reached indraprastha. The automated system warned me to take care of the gap between the cab and the platform. As I got out and headed towards the escalator to reach the ticketing counter to get my ticket back to the original station, i looked back at the train which had already started to accelerate back to its original station thinking of the change that was spreading through our cities. The metro is just one of the many edifices of the new, changing India which is riding on the strength of its masses and the hopes of the emerging new generation. We need more projects of similar nature across the nation, cutting across political opposition, government red tape with the people in charge showing character and shrewd will if we have to make an everlasting mark in this competitive world.