Even as New Delhi's citizens struggle to avoid daily traffic snarls, repeated snags and glitches in the Delhi Metro keeps adding to commuters' woes. The metro's Blue Line has been down thrice in two days due to technical failures. The first snag occurred Wednesday afternoon, and the second in the evening. The third glitch took place 9 am Thursday, causing commuters much discomfort. "Delays due to technical failures have become a regular feature," said Ankit Sharma, who uses the metro every day to travel from Noida to Dwarka. "It's reputation of being a reliable medium of mass transport has taken a real beating."
Sharma added that upon reaching the metro station Wednesday, he was stopped by a guard and told no trains were plying on the Blue Line. "But he could not tell me the problem. Nor could he say when services would resume." Significantly, no announcements were made to the passengers about the delays. The technical problems on the Blue Line reoccurred Wednesday at 7 pm. The cascading effect resulted in all the trains running late. A Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) source said a problem in the metro's signalling system caused the inconvenience. "The control room was getting the signals of the movement of trains only intermittently. On account of this problem, the trains on the Blue Line had to be stopped," the source said.
As per an official DMRC statement, trains on the Yamuna Bank to Vaishali section of the Blue Line are running at a frequency of 5 minutes 30 seconds, while the Noida to Dwarka arm of the line is running at a frequency of 4 minutes 30 seconds. "The signalling team is carrying out the rectification work. Services on the Blue Line will be restored as per normal time table," the statement said. Sharma said this isn't the first time he's faced such problems on the Blue Line. "Only a week, the metro was running 45 minutes late. Then, it stopped for 10 to 12 minutes at two stations. I reached my destination a half hour late," Sharma added.
Many passengers also complain of problems on the Red Line. Arvind Srivastava, a resident of Rohini said some days ago, when he was travelling on the Red Line, the metro stopped at Kashmere Gate. He was then told there were technical problems and it would take some time before the service restarted. "I had to get down because I had to catch another train. So I ended up taking an auto to my destination."
Another passenger complained the train did not even stop at the designated station. "The train skipped two stations. I had to return to my destination using another train," he said. Incorrect announcements have also become a regular feature, said Debobrat Ghose, a journalist with Firstpost. "Such announcements create much confusion among commuters. For example, if the next station is Mayur Vihar, the announcement would be made for Akshardham, leaving passengers bewildered," he said.
The metro, which was built to ease the city's traffic woes, has received acclaim from overseas. Only recently, Janette Sadik Khan, former transport commissioner of New York city, complimented it. "It was the kind of experience I would hope to have in New York city. What Delhi is doing is an example the world needs to follow," Khan said. However, even as the Delhi Metro has seemingly lost some of its former sheen with passengers, not all agree. Anuj Dayal, Chief Public Relations Officer, said the metro is still one of the best transport systems, not just in India, but around the world. "Technical problems are common in any operating system," Dayal said. "Despite this, 99 percent of trains still run on time."