Congested roads, inconvenient travelling options, high levels of pollution and an overburdened national Capital. The Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS), which is aimed at better connectivity within the National Capital Region, is expected to change all of that.
The system, expected to become operational by 2016, promises high-speed trains running at an interval of five to six minutes, reducing travel time and ensuring comfort for thousands of commuters who travel between Delhi and the neighbouring States. Connecting Delhi with Panipat, Alwar and Meerut in the first phase, the RRTS is finally taking shape.
The Union Cabinet recently approved the setting up of the National Capital Region Transport Corporation Limited (NCRTC), which will implement the RRTS projects in the NCR.
“The RRTS has several benefits — it will reduce accidents and congestion on road, it will bring down pollution by reducing the number of private vehicles, and for commuters, it will offer safe, efficient and fast transport in the NCR. It will bring about a dramatic shift in the share of the public transport on the roads,” said Naini Jayaseelan, Member Secretary of the NCR Planning Board (NCRPB) which has conceived the project.
The multi-crore project will also address the problem of shrinking spaces for creating new roads and highways.
“There is only so much land available for expanding the road infrastructure. Besides, the population and numbers of commuters who travel between Delhi and the NCR are on the rise and we have to have the wherewithal to cater to the increasing rush. Roads, highways and flyovers cannot meet the carrying capacity of an RRTS, it is a system with multiple benefits,” she asserted.
Delhi is among the cities with the highest volume-to-capacity (V/C) ratio that is used to denote traffic congestion. A V/C ratio greater than 1.0 is considered severe congestion and almost all roads in Delhi have a V/C ratio between 1.5 and 8.
The high cost of investment should not be a deterrent, Ms. Jayaseelan said, pointing to detailed studies that show the benefits of an RRTS and the savings that will accrue over time.
While the RRTS will have tangible savings in terms of fuel consumption and time, it is the long-term impact that it will have on the environment that has earned the approval of environmentalists as well urban planners.
The rail-based green field project will include laying of tracks for high-speed trains, which will then be integrated with the existing Delhi Metro railway to ensure first and last mile connectivity.
Broad gauge tracks and trains running at speeds of up to 160 km per hour, the RRTS corridors will be seamlessly integrated through multimodal integration system with Delhi Metro, airports and bus terminus.
The first corridor, Delhi-Sonepat-Panipat, is 111 km long and is expected to see a daily ridership of nearly four lakh in 2016.
The Delhi-Gurgaon-Alwar stretch is 180 km long and is estimated to cater to seven lakh people. The third corridor, Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut, is 90 km long and will carry an estimated 5.7 lakh people everyday in 2016.
The three corridors have a total length of 381 km and five more will be added in the second phase. These additional five corridors are Delhi-Faridabad-Ballabgarh- Palwal, Ghaziabad-Khurja, Delhi-Bahadurgarh-Rohtak, Ghaziabad-Hapur and Delhi-Shahadra-Baraut.
The RRTS system has borrowed from the London, Paris and New York model, where the underground tubes are seamlessly merged with high-speed rails networks. In Paris for instance, the metro is integrated with its RER system, ensuring comfortable and efficient travel system.
There is yet another benefit of RRTS that the NCRPB head points out — better connectivity within NCR will give a fillip to economic growth, development of the region and better infrastructure planning along the corridors.
“The system will also help in overall development of the region, because there can be no growth without development and the key to development is connectivity. Unless there is development, the region as an economic entity will not emerge,” Ms. Jayaseelan said.
While the pressure on civic facilities in Delhi will be considerably reduced, other regions will see more development as the NCRPB is planning transit oriented development along the corridors.