Delhi Metro: Safety clause further delays opening of ITO Metro station

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New Delhi: The much-awaited opening of the ITO Metro station, which is expected to have a daily ridership of 40,000 and decongest the busy city intersection, looks set to be indefinitely delayed.

Though work on the station and the tracks — part of the Badarpur-Central Secretariat to Kashmere Gate corridor — had been completed by early February, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and commissioner of Metro rail safety (CMRS) are locked in a technical battle over safe operation of trains passing through the station.

The bone of contention is a ‘single-line operation’ — the station has no provision for a train to reverse — which CMRS claims is not allowed by the Delhi Metro Act. However, DMRCsays that neither the Act nor general rules governing the capital’s Metro system bars single-line operations.

Both the warring parties had referred the matter to the urban development ministry, which sent it back to CMRS in early March for consideration, citing its inability to take a decision on a technical matter. “The safety aspect is something that can be judged (only) by CMRS,” a senior ministry official said. However, with CMRS continuing to harbour reservations over the issue, the mandatory safety audit of the station has been delayed by over a month.

While placing the case before CMRS, the ministry cited DMRC’s representation that operation on this stretch would benefit thousands of passengers and that there was a “popular demand” for the line being quickly opened.

Asked about the face-off, Anuj Dayal, spokesman for Delhi Metro, said, “As yet, no formal application has been sent to the CMRS regarding opening of the ITO section. However, we have been approaching the CMRS informally about this issue and he has been expressing certain reservations on the subject as this line involves single line working. The DMRC is not aware whether the CMRS has approached the Centre for an opinion on the issue.”

Single-line operation is basically carried out when a station has no provision for reversal of the train. That is, when the train travels from Badarpur to Central Secretariat and thereafter to Mandi House, it can reverse for the return journey through a reversal system available at the designated station, in this case, Mandi House. However, when it travels till ITO, to return back, there is no reversal station at ITO. The train that goes till ITO will return back to Mandi House on the same track. The next reversal station on this corridor, incidentally, is at Kashmere Gate.

It is this operation that the CMRS has been objecting to, said sources. The CMRS’ contention is that there is no provision in the Delhi Metro Act or any rule for single line operation. DMRC on the other hand, says that neither the Act nor rules governing the metro system bar single line operations. “The safety aspect is something that can be judged by the CMRS,” added the ministry official. With the CMRS expressing reservations however, the safety audit has been delayed by over a month. Work on the station and the track till ITO was completed in late January-early February. However, a request for safety audit, which is mandatory before the station can be thrown open to the public, has not been sent as yet because of the on-going issue.

It is not the first time that the CMRS and Delhi Metro have been at loggerheads over the opening of a corridor or part of a line. The commissioning of the Airport Metro Express had also seen differences between the two at the time of safety audit.

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