Ten years after its first line opened, Delhi continues to set an impressive pace with the expansion of its metro network. December 25, 2012 marked the 10th anniversary of a truly ground breaking urban transport system. Described as the largest infrastructure project in the history of Indian economy, Delhi Metro drew heavily on the experience of other operators from around the world, notably the MTR Corporation from Hong Kong and the SMRT Corporation from Singapore. They hired consultants from abroad and adopted international construction methods and proven technologies to build a safe, efficient, high-capacity transit system as quickly as possible.

The speed of development is a crucial factor in the success of the system. Delhi is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, with the population having increased by 21% between 2001 and 2011 to 16.75 million, and is forecasted to reach 24.50 million by 2021. There are also other important demographic shifts that support large-scale metro development. Land use is changing dramatically, with the commercialisation of previously residential areas, and increasing suburbanisation as the promise of higher living standards lures families away from the central districts, fuelling the emergence of commuter culture.

At present only around 20% of people in Delhi own a car, but with an average of around 1500 new cars registered in the city every day since then, the road network is under increasing strain. The problems does not stop when we reach important destinations in Central and South Delhi, where around 25% of the land area is required for parking, which is already an acute and largely unregulated issue.

To prevent the city being completely overwhelmed by road traffic, a coordinated programme of mass transit investment was clearly required which would provide an affordable and convenient alternative to the car. Planning for the metro began way back in 1985 and the construction commenced from 1997. The DMRC built 65 km of metro in the first phase, which was completed by two years and nine months ahead of schedule in 2005, at a total cost of US$ 2.3 billion. By 2010, the completion of Phase 2 had expanded the network to 187 km.

Given below is the full system map and the link of Delhi Metro along with the under constructed Phase 3 lines:-

The metro now carries more than three million passengers a day and the DMRC officials says demand is increasing constantly. A record 16.4 million passengers were carried on June 24, 2013. Within two years, the number swelled up to 23.5 million, on account of Raksha Bandhan, on August 29, 2015. Many trains are being lengthened from six to eight cars to ease pressure on the busiest sections of the network.

A total of 68 eight-car trains have being introduced on Lines 2 and 3, the first of which entered service on Line 2 in December 2013, increasing capacity by up to 600, as compared with the equivalent six-car set. Six-car trains have being introduced in Lines 1, 5 and 6 during the peak hours, along with the current four car sets. Currently, the metro network consists of six lines, including the Airport Express network, totaling a distance of 208 km. Click on the link for the current network map:-

However, keeping up with population growth demands much more than longer trains, and after a decade-and-a-half of relentless construction, Delhi has embarked on an ambitious third phase, which will add a further 137 km to the network by 2016. The DMRC regards this as one of the most crucial stages of development, improving connectivity to large parts of the city not currently served by the metro.

And also relieving the principal interchanges on the existing network and providing desperately-needed additional capacity in the core. Two completely new lines will follow the city’s main arterial roads and DMRC says these will be the first in Delhi to employ unattended train operation (UTO), with platform screen doors at all stations.

Line 7 follows the route of the Inner Ring Road from Majilis Park to Shiv Vihar, tracing an almost complete circle around the western, southern, northern and eastern edges of the city on a mostly elevated alignment. The 58.3 km line will link all of the existing lines with no less than 18 interchanges, easing the pressure on the handful of existing hubs such as Central Secretariat, Kashmere Gate and Rajiv Chowk, and by offering alternative routes across the city, which avoid the most congested stations.

The DMRC and its contractors have encountered a number of constructional challenges on this project, not least ensuring traffic on the Ring Road continues to flow as smoothly as possible. These include raising high-voltage power lines over the elevated alignment at Punjabi Bagh East and the construction of Dhaula Kuan station, which crosses the Airport Express Line at a height of 23 m above street level.

The 36.4 km long Line 8 will follow the Outer Ring Road, south of the city from Janakpuri West on Line 3, skirting the northern perimeter of Indira Gandhi International Airport before heading east to Hauz Khas and Kalindi Kunj, where a new depot will be constructed. The line will then bridge the Yamuna River to terminate at an interchange with Line 3 at Botanical Garden in Noida. Line 8 will have 26 stations, 12 of them underground, and 19 km of the route will be elevated or at grade with the remaining 17.3 km in tunnels. The DMRC has opted for both six and eight-car trains on both of these lines, but with peak headways of three minutes and a commercial speed of around 50 km/h, hourly capacity will be higher than on existing lines.

The 9.4 km extension of Line 6 from Central Secretariat to Kashmere Gate will run entirely underground and will interchange with Line 3 at Mandi House and Lines 1 and 2 at Kashmere Gate. The opening of line will relieve Rajiv Chowk station, which is the busiest on the network handling more than 500,000 passengers per day. The initial 3.4 km section from Central Secretariat to Mandi House opened on June 26, 2014, thus becoming the first line extension to open in Phase 3.

A further extension of Line 6 was done, with the opening of a 971 m section between ITO and Mandi House on June 8, 2015. The ITO metro station is expected to take some of the surface traffic off the ITO intersection, which witnesses heavy traffic jams due to a number of private and commercial vehicles, coming from South and East Delhi, which is the main arterial road for the people residing in those areas. The remaining link towards Kashmere Gate is expected to be operational by December 2015. The 4.5 km northern extension of Line 2 from Jahangirpuri to Badli opened on October 1, 2015, increasing the line’s length to 50 km.

Recently, a southward extension of Line 6, linking Badarpur to Faridabad, opened on September 6, 2015 by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. All the nine new stations, along the corridor are solar powered and overbridges have being constructed for the passengers’ convenience, since the line runs parallel to the busy Mathura Road. Another 3.2 km extension from Escorts Mujesar to Ballabhgarh is underway, and will be operational by 2017, thus completing the entire Line 6.

Three other extensions were also approved in late 2014 for inclusion in Phase 3, such as Line 1 from Rithala to Bawana (12 km), Line 5 from Mundka to Bahadurgarh (12 km), a branch off Line 3 from Dwarka to Najafgarh (5.5 km) and another extension of Line 1 from Dilshad Garden to New Bus Stand in Ghaziabad (10 km). Also, a 12.5 km route construction is underway in the Airport Express Line, that will link from Dwarka Sector 21 to IFFCO Chowk in Gurgaon. More extensions are being done in the eastern end of Line 2, that will link beyond Noida City Centre to its interiors and Greater Noida.

Around 25 TBMs (Tunnel Boring Machines) are being used, compared with 14 in Phase 2, and a centralised control centre has been established to monitor tunnelling activity across the city, tracking the progress of each TBM by GPS (Global Positioning System). The DMRC is also trying to move away from cut-and-cover construction, which has been hugely disruptive to traffic in the crowded streets, and is experimenting with different techniques for underground stations. Where street closures are unavoidable, DMRC has modelled traffic flow to establish the best diversionary routes.

Despite some delays in planning approvals and land acquisition, the DMRC Chief Dr. Mangu Singh is confident that all Phase 3 projects will be completed by April 2016. The opening of these lines is expected to push daily ridership beyond the three million mark, and a total of 500 new metro cars are being procured to provide the necessary capacity in the train fleet. Phase 3 alone requires the construction of 41 km of tunnels and 28 underground stations, meaning almost 40% of the network will be underground by 2016. The longest underground section being constructed in Phase 3, is a 17.3 km tunnel between IGI Airport T1D and Kalkaji on Line 8.

India’s then urban development minister Kamal Nath indicated in December 2013 that construction could begin on the fourth phase of Delhi Metro before the completion of Phase 3, reflecting the need to keep pace with the growth of the city. Phase 4 will involve the construction of 120 km of new lines, expanding the network to 440 km by 2021, and bringing every home in the city well within 500 m of a station.

So, Delhi Metro is now going to be expanding the whole of Delhi NCR by 2021 and hopefully, this would relieve the ever expanding road network and reduce pollution drastically. With the completion of Phase 3, the Delhi Metro will be the 7th largest in the world by 2016. By 2021, it will be the 2nd largest metro system in the world after the Shanghai Metro, overtaking the well known London Tube and New York Subway. Currently, it is the world’s 13th largest in terms of the system’s network and the 15th largest in terms of the number of stations.