The Delhi-Meerut Rapid Rail Transit System (RRTS), a joint venture of the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government worth Rs 30,274 crore, would begin operations by March 2023. According to the National Capital Region Transport Corporation, preparations are going on to operationalise 17 km stretch of the total 82.15 km long corridor by March 2023.
In a recent media interaction NCRTC MD Vinay Kumar Singh said we expect about 8 lakh passengers are likely to travel daily by Rapid Rail. The architecture and design work for the 17 km long priority section from Sahibabad to Duhai covering five stations Sahibabad, Ghaziabad, Guldhar, Duhai and Duhai depots, have been finalized. The construction work is in advanced stage. Covid-19 put brakes on all activities due to this the work of rapid rail also affected.
The UP government has allocated Rs 1,326 crore for the project in the current financial year. According to the officials of RRTS project, 24 stations will be built along the entire corridor.
Here are the extracts from the interview
Q1: What is the status of construction of Rapid Rail between Delhi and Meerut?
Ans: The construction work is going on in full swing on this route. A large number of pillars have been prepared in the UP part. Tunnel construction work in Delhi’s Anand Vihar will start soon. Our target is that in March 2023, rapid rail will start running on 17 km of this corridor and gradually its sections will be opened. In 2025, passengers of Delhi will be able to reach Meerut in an hour by Rapid Rail. We estimate that in 2025, 8 lakh passengers will travel daily on Rapid Rail.
Q2: Work stopped due to Covid, has it affected the construction? Will the cost also increase?
Ans: The work was stopped during Covid. At that time oxygen was being supplied for Kovid patients, so oxygen supply was stopped for construction works. But now we have time to start this entire line, so it should be expected that if there is no major hurdle, then the rapid rail will run on time. As far as cost escalation is concerned, it will be finalized only when the project is completed.
Q3: Due to Covid, all the metro companies of the country are stuck in financial crisis. The average cost of construction of Rapid Rail is also around Rs 370 crore/km, so what is the preparation for Rapid Rail not to face any crisis?
Ans: We will focus on reducing cost. Many metros are currently handing over some work to private companies, so that the cost can be reduced. To reduce the cost, we will also give the responsibility of running the Rapid Rail operations to a private company so that the expenses can be reduced. For this, we will find good companies and have a detailed agreement with them so that there is no inconvenience to the passengers. Apart from this, we will also keep a backup plan so that if the agency faces any problem, the speed of Rapid Rail does not stop.
Q4: But there will also be safety concerns in this and the fare burden will not increase on the passengers? What is the estimate of how much the Rapid Rail fare will be?
Ans: How will the new system evolve if we do not do any experiments? Well, for safety, we are making a foolproof plan. Metro Act will be applicable on Rapid Rail also. Just as there are strict rules of safety and security in it, so will it be here too. As far as the fare is concerned, according to the DPR estimate, the fare will be around Rs 2 a km. The private agency will not have the right to increase the rent later. Like the Metro, the fare committee will decide, which is formed under the chairmanship of the judge.
Q5: Will there be any arrangement like feeder bus for Rapid Rail?
Ans: Talks are going on in UP for feeder buses. In Delhi, we are doing integrated planning. Our Meerut line in Delhi will connect with bus stands and metro stations at two places so that the passenger does not face any problem for onward journey by getting off the rapid rail. Similarly, we are making such arrangements for Alwar line also. The Alwar line will also connect to INA, Munirka and Aerocity metro stations in Delhi. Similarly, the station of Panipat line will be connected to the Kashmiri Gate metro station. In the coming times, overall there will be rapid rail connectivity on 7 out of 8 lines of Delhi Metro. Apart from this, passengers will not have to take separate tickets for the fare. With the same card, you will be able to travel in Metro, Rapid Rail.
Q6: What is the status of Alwar and Panipat line of Rapid Rail?
Ans: We have got approval from the Government of Haryana and Delhi for the 106 km route from Sarai Kale Khan to SNB for the Rapid Rail to be built from Sarai Kale Khan to Alwar. It is expected that soon the central government will also give its approval. At present, we are doing pre-construction work so that after getting the approval, it does not take much time to start the construction work. The DPR of Panipat line has also been prepared.
(Based on the recent conversation with Gulshan Rai Khatri, NBT)