Dr Mangu Singh, Managing Director, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation talks about the many challenges of running a Metro network that connects 271 stations, how it has contributed to curb pollution despite operating from within a virtual gas chamber and the hurdles that lie ahead in its quest for further expansion. Excerpts:
Q: Delhi Metro is the fastest growing and the largest Metro service provider of the country that connects 271 stations. This mammoth operation runs on complex engineering and state-of- art-digital architecture. What are the biggest challenges that the organization is facing even after reaching the pinnacle of service delivery?
A: The journey of Delhi Metro so far has been full of challenges. The Delhi Metro’s network has been built in some of the busiest and congested places of Delhi, where constructing a heavy structure was highly challenging. Executing a massive project like Delhi Metro without causing much disruption to the existing structures and the traffic was a major challenge. Similar challenges will arise when the Metro network expands further. Currently, the Delhi Metro operates a massive network of 373 kilometres. Operating a mammoth network without compromising with the 99 per cent punctuality is a big challenge.
Q: The Delhi Metro has also contributed tremendously on the environment front by becoming the first-ever railway project in the world to claim carbon credits for regenerative braking. DMRC has also been certified by the United Nations (UN) as the first Metro Rail and Rail-based system in the world to get carbon credits for reducing Green House gas emissions as it has helped to reduce pollution levels in the city by 6.3 lakh tonnes every year thus helping in reducing global warming. As the city is still gasping for breath, what are the initiatives that the Delhi Metro is mulling to save the environment?
A: Since the beginning of its journey, the Delhi Metro made it a point to adopt eco-friendly policies that would help protect the environment and optimize the resources. As a result, DMRC became the first rail-based project in the world to earn carbon credits from the UN. Delhi Metro has also become the world’s first-ever Metro system to get green certification for all its major buildings and installations. After receiving green certifications for its Phase 3 stations, depots and sub-stations, 10 residential colonies of DMRC were also awarded the platinum rating for adherence to green building norms by the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).
Recently, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has started receiving solar power from the Rewa Solar Power Project. The power received from Rewa is being utilised for operational as well as auxiliary requirements of the Delhi Metro. Till now, the solar power generated by the rooftop solar plants installed in DMRC premises were utilised for the auxiliary requirements such as lighting and air-conditioning of stations, depots, etc.
Delhi Metro has become the first-ever Metro project in the country to include power generated from Waste to Energy (WtE) plant in its energy mix. On June 1 this year, the DMRC started receiving 2 MW power from a 12 MW capacity Waste to Energy (WtE) plant of M/s East Delhi Waste Processing Company Limited (EDWPCL) set up in Ghazipur. The DMRC will take approx. 17.5 MUs per annum from this plant.
The DMRC has taken various other measures to make the system sustainable. Besides conserving energy through promoting renewable energy, it also adopted various other green practices. The DMRC has extensively used LED lighting at Phase-III stations and set up state-of-the-art Effluent Treatment Plants (ETP) and Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) at its depots and residential colonies so that the wastewater generated from these depots and colonies can be recycled and reused as much as possible. The DMRC has installed rainwater harvesting structures at elevated stations, viaducts, depots and staff colonies.
The DMRC is taking all possible measures to reduce energy consumption and depends more on renewable energy resources. As the Metro network further expands, the existing eco-friendly methods will be followed in the construction and operations of the system.
Q: When Delhi Metro is aiming to build a complete automated ecosystem that will support the daily operations of Delhi Metro, at this level, how do you plan to enhance the skills of the employees who will be an integral part of this advanced digital fabric?
A: Delhi Metro accords high priority for skill development of its employees. It has established a facility at its training school located at Shastri Park. All employees of the Delhi Metro undergo mandatory foundation training after recruitment. This training school also trains staff from other Metros in India and from foreign Metros such as Dhaka Metro. The DMRC also frequently organizes training programmes for its employees at the Institutes of national importance like the IITs and IIMs. The DMRC employees are provided training on advanced technologies from time to time as well.
Q: In this vast expansion spree, what kind of support and assistance are you seeking from other countries who have already created their mark in this field?
A: Delhi Metro is a world-class system which operates on highly advanced technologies that are currently used across the world. The DMRC is a member of international Metro commonalities such as COMET & NOVA, where members facilitate knowledge sharing and exchange of best practices in the field of Metro operations and technologies. The DMRC is also a member of I-Metros which is a forum for the exchange of ideas, pooling of knowledge and sharing of experience, best practices, innovations, etc. within Metros from India. Apart from this, the DMRC also organizes various seminars, guided visits to its network for officials from different metros across the country. General consultants, a consortium of experts from across the world, guide the Delhi Metro in its construction.
Q: Audio announcement inside the trains has been curtailed. Why did DMRC take this step?
A: The initiative was based on feedback received from passengers. On a trial basis, the announcements inside the trains were regulated on the Magenta line for a brief period of time to receive feedback from the passengers. Later, an online survey was also conducted to collect suggestions from passengers to replicate the initiative on other stretches of the DMRC network. The feedback received is being analyzed and a decision shall be taken accordingly.
Q: Social media platforms have become an integral part of governance and several departments by government officials have used them effectively to connect with the common people. Social media has also played the part of an agony aunt. How, as an organization, is the DMRC planning to use these communication channels to connect with its commuters?
A: The social media accounts of Delhi Metro on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram play a crucial role in the dissemination of information. The DMRC uses these accounts to share service updates on a regular basis and for grievance redressal. The accounts have become popular among commuters. Many of them are using the DMRC’s social media accounts, especially Twitter, to bring their concerns to our notice and are getting assistance from the DMRC.
Q: How do you plan to turn Metro into a more people-friendly mode of communication? Do you have any specific plans for specially-abled children and adults?
A: The Delhi Metro is a very people-friendly transit system. The entire network is designed to ensure hassle-free travel for all commuters including the disabled, children and senior citizens. The disabled-friendly features such as tactile paving, ramps, lifts, provision of wheelchairs with dedicated staff to assist the commuters to make the journey easy. The guidance system of the DMRC with digital display and audio announcements is extremely efficient in assisting the commuters in finding their destinations. The DMRC has adopted all the global-best practices to serve commuters of all age groups and the differently-abled as well.