The ever-increasing rush and a rapidly expanding network notwithstanding, Delhi’s Metro trains have managed to record an average operational punctuality of over 99 per cent.
During the first quarter of this year, the Delhi Metro recorded an average operational punctuality of 99.34 per cent, a feat that only a handful of subway systems across the globe achieve.
The figure for the last quarter of 2009 was similar and the current rate was achieved despite a new line (Yamuna Bank-Anand Vihar) being added to the network in January.
An internal log maintained by the DMRC, which records every movement of every single train of the over 100 km network, has calculated the figure for the January-March period.
Very few subway systems in the world - the London subway being a prominent example - record over 99 per cent punctuality rate.
DMRC says the figure was achieved despite some technical and operational glitches.
“Like the preceding years, the high punctuality rates could be achieved again as the Delhi Metro maintained the schedule of most of the 1913 trains trips that its services make a day, even though there were some operational glitches,” DMRC spokesman Anuj Dayal told PTI.
The punctuality rate is an average of those recorded in four operational lines - Dilshad Garden-Rithala, Central Secretariat-Jehangirpuri, Dwarka Sec-9-Noida City Centre and Yamuna Bank-Anand Vihar.
In Delhi Metro, punctuality is measured in seconds and train is considered late if it was more than 60 seconds late, where as in the Metro networks across the globe, a train is considered late if it is delayed by three minutes.
The Metro network in the capital consists of 101 trains on four broad gauge lines and services are run at a frequency of 4 minutes during peak hours (morning and evening rush hours) and 6 minutes during non-peak hours. Commuters feel the frequency should be increased.
DMRC says frequency will be increased when its network will have a total strength of 200 trains by September this year. Then the frequency will be just 2 minutes on all lines.
Over 10 lakh people use the Metro system everyday and the figure is expected to double in September this year as another three new lines will be thrown open before that timeframe keeping the October Commonwealth Games in view.
Ever since the Metro became operational in 2002, the punctuality rate has never gone below 99 per cent, DMRC officials say.
DMRC officials say maintaining punctuality is one of the biggest challenges for them as today 101 trains traverse over 43,000 kilometres on an average day.
Anju Sharma, a banker who travels from Laxmi Nagar station to Rajiv Chowk everyday, says the DMRC should increase the frequency of trains during peak hours.
“They should increase trains especially during morning and evening hours. The service is good, but more trains would mean less rush on the trains,” she says.
The operational control centre at the Metro Bhawan and Shastri Park station record every movement of the train and in some cases on the Yamuna Bank-Anand Vihar line trains have reached the station before their scheduled time.
How is this possible? A Metro official says the train will stop at every station for a specific time and if there is no rush and people get into the train without obstructing closing of doors and other things the trains reach the next station before time.
“In stations like Rajiv Chowk, Kashmere Gate and Shastri Park the crowd is more than any other station. So, sometime the train has to be there for more than the scheduled 40 seconds since the rush is more. So, sometimes it results in delays,” the official said.
Some passengers on the Dwarka Sec 9-Noida City Centre/Anand Vihar feel their trains come late when compared to those on the Line 2 (Central Secretariat—Jehangirpuri).
But, officials say the two lines cannot be compared because of their length. While the Dwarka line is 47 kms, the Line 2 is just over 15 kms.
They say timely opening and closing of doors of trains at Metro stations is very important for maintaining punctuality and hampering the automatic closing of doors often leads to delay. Doors of metro trains open and close at least 8,30,000 times a day.