Delhi Airport Express Line suspended for safety reasons
INDIA: The first Public Private Partnership (PPP) project in India between Delhi Metro and Reliance Infrastructure, the Delhi Airport Metro Express Line (DAMEL), has been suspended just after 16 months of operations.
According to sources, Reliance was the initiator of the suspension, first saying it will shut down the line for an indefinite period. But just a day after the announcement, the Government hurried to assure the passengers that the high speed airport rail link will resume services in two months after necessary repairs.
“Delhi Airport Metro Express Line, India’s first high speed metro developed under PPP provides world-class connectivity from New Delhi Railway Station to the Airport, extending to Dwarka Sector 21. Completed in a record time of 27 months from the award date, the project started operations on 23 February 2011 and has been running smoothly till date,” says the official statement on the Line’s website.
According to the PPP partners, the DAMEL carried over 6.8 million passengers.
“Now, after having served the citizens of Delhi diligently for more than a year, we have to announce with regret, a temporary suspension of our services, with effect from 5.30 AM on 8 July 2012. Some technical defects have been noticed in the civil structures (which were under scope of DMRC under the PPP scheme) necessitating a thorough inspection of the viaducts. Thus, in keeping with our corporate philosophy of attaching the highest importance to safety, we have taken this decision on the basis of expert advice received,” says the official Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Ltd. statement, finishing with a promise that they “expect to resume our services as soon as we receive re-certification from experts/competent authorities.”
Urban Development Ministry Secretary Sudhir Krishna said he would wait for a report by an expert committee on what led to the faults.
“Faults have been identified on the interface between the girder and the pillar at several places along the Metro Line. Initially, it was thought that repairs would be carried out without having to suspend service, but the concessionaire decided that for carrying out proper repairs in lesser time, it is best to shut down the service.”
Mr Sumit Banerjee, CEO, Infrastructure of Reliance Infra, admitted that the corridor was not making profits, but they would continue to run the line and would not close it down.
“This decision is purely linked with safety,” Mr Banerjee said.
However, Mr Krishna and the Delhi Chief Secretary, Mr P. K. Tripathi, were evasive on who will bear the cost of repairs works to be carried out. While Reliance Infra operates and maintains the corridor, the civil structure was built by Delhi Metro.
Reliance Infrastructure may be able to demand compensation from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) for the period for which the Airport Metro services are closed.
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