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Commuters enthusiastic, but sceptical

Mohammad Ali
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Daily commuters appear enthusiastic at the possibility of reaching their homes and offices early because of the proposed Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS), which will ensure comfortable travel by high-speed trains, but their welcoming stance was marred by a strong sense of scepticism over completion of the project by the scheduled deadline of 2016.

Ashok Garg, a software professional working in Delhi Stock Exchange and a Meerut resident, was thrilled at the idea of reaching office in about an hour.

“I have heard the RRTS corridor will reduce the travel time to Meerut by as much as 60 minutes. Just imagine, I will be able to reach office in just 50-60 minutes! Right now it takes at least two hours to reach Delhi if I get a local train from Meerut. I end up spending about five hours in a train everyday,” added Mr. Garg, while waiting at Shivaji Bridge for his train to Meerut which, as usual, was late.

“I don’t have great words for the present railway transport system connecting Delhi to NCR towns like Panipat, Alwar, Ghaziabad and Meerut. I, along with lakhs of others, commute by local trains because we do not have a choice. But I am waiting for the day the RRTS becomes operational.”

While Mr. Garg spoke about much interest and eagerness the RRTS has generated among the lakhs of daily commuters on the route, an announcement was made that the 6.20 local EMU to Meerut was delayed by 10 more minutes!

But among the things, many like him are most thrilled at the prospect of comfortable travel. An avid reader, Mr. Garg said: “I always have this ideal image of commuting, like in Europe, where people read. I want to read, but that is impossible to do in local trains. They are so crowded that there’s barely place to stand. It’s not quite often that I manage to secure a berth and read while travelling.”

But Prakash Mani, a resident of Ghaziabad and an employee with the Ministry of Home Affairs, did not have such an idealistic view of the RRTS. “We have been hearing about the high-speed trains and this corridor since the last one decade, but what has happened so far? The project has just been approved. I just hope I get to ride the high-speed train in my lifetime,” said the 55-year-old.

“I have spent almost all my working life travelling in local trains. Once the RRTS is operational, I will be able to travel comfortably. But how are they going to complete a project of this scale on time, when in all these years they have not yet been able to connect Dilshad Garden with Ghaziabad?”

Some commuters also wondered if land for the RRTS had been acquired. Hardware professional Alok Goel said: “Where is the land for the much-talked about corridor? Do we not know how difficult it is to procure land for such a big project? Frankly speaking, I am not all that hopeful about this high speed corridor.”

Keeping all the talk about scepticism aside, 13-year-old Class VI student of Matasundari School Ankit Singh hoped he will be able to commute to his Sahibabad residence in the high-speed trains by the time he is in Class X.

Asked how he manages to study at home when he spends three hours travelling by train everyday, Ankit said: “It is a challenge for not just me, but hundreds of school children who commute to Delhi for their studies. We have been able to somehow manage till now. The fact is that the process for initiation of the project has started now. I hope that commuting will become comfortable in next three years.”

Like him, Kamal Kumar, a workers’ supervisor who lives in Alwar, is among those waiting for the RRTS to get operational. “The very idea of commuting on the NCR routes is quite overwhelming. I don’t come to Delhi everyday and I try to keep travel to a minimum to avoid the troublesome experience. With the RRTS starting by 2016, things will hopefully change for the better.”

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