Why did the Delhi Airport Metro Express(DAME) close operations? Is it due to safety concerns as the public notification issued by the consortium led by Reliance Infra says or is it also because the line is undergoing losses?
Delhi Airport Express is the country’s first high-speed metro network which was developed under Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and started operations in February 2011.Since then the metro link between New Delhi Railway Station and Indira Gandhi International Airport (extended to Dwarka sector 21) has been working safely. On Friday, 6th July 2012, DMRC spokesperson Anuj Dayal announced, “The Delhi Metro has received a communication from the concessionaire this evening that they intend to stop services from Sunday.” He did not make clear the reason for this sudden decision by Reliance Infra led consortium to close down the operations. The official word from the Airport Express authorities came in late where they have identified the reason for the suspension of services as safety. In a recent regular inspection, technical faults were found in the line where interface between pillar and girder were found to be shaky. It has been just 16 months to the operations and already serious damages are found in the infrastructure. Also the line, which was built for a speed of 120 kmph never quite made it to a speed this high. Initially speed was kept at 105 kmph and later reduced to 90 kmph for technical reasons. Thus this line never quite took off.
Add to this the loss-making machine it has turned out to be. High fares deter regular commuters and lack of night-time operations miss on footfalls due to late night flights. While officials at Reliance Infra have come out strongly against lack of profit being a reason for suspension of services, one can’t also deny that if the endeavor had been half as successful, at least calling off services would not have been indefinite. In solidarity with the Reliance Infra officials, Urban Development Secretary has even given a date for reopening, “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 the line will be restored after a month”, he said.