The much-awaited 'Heritage Line' of the Delhi Metro, which missed a number of deadlines due to delays, was thrown open to public today. The new line was flagged off by Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, through video conferencing at Metro Bhawan here.
The new line, which is essentially an extension of the Violet Line that runs between Faridabad and ITO presently, has three stations -- Delhi Gate, Jama Masjid and Red Fort.
The stretch missed a number of deadlines throughout its course, and was expected to be open to the public last year. Metro officials have attributed the delays to difficulties they faced during the construction on the vulnerable stretch, as many historical ramparts were laid along it.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) chief Mangu Singh had said the line was well on course for launch last December but a labour crunch triggered by a ban on construction and demolition activities and demonetisation led to the delay.
What's new? 'Dream Gates,' says DMRC
Entering a metro station with the flick of a smart phone may sound like a dream but with the launch of the ITO-Kashmere Gate line is set to translate into reality.
The metro has installed, what it calls, "Dream Gates" in two stations of this corridor, popularly known as the 'Heritage Line' as it goes underneath old Delhi neighbourhoods such as the Red Fort and Jama Masjid.
"Commuters using e-wallets like Paytm will be able to enter the Red Fort station. Upon entering the journey details the e-wallet will generate a QR code or a machine-readable code which the special entry gate will read and let the person walk in," a metro official said.
While the Red Fort station has two such gates in the pilot phase, commuters, for now, will be able to go to the next station that is Jama Masjid to make their exit in a similar manner through two special gates. The other new station is Delhi Gate.
However, the facility, touted as the first-of-its-kind, may not be available from Sunday itself as the new stations do not have cellular networks or wifi facilities at this point.
'Stations designed to display heritage of the area'
Aftre the launch of the section, residents of the densely-populated area, made up of areas in and around the Mughal seat of power 'Shahjahanabad', have direct access to commercial centres such as Connaught Place, Janpath, offices in Central Secretariat, and the satellite town of Faridabad.
'Shahjahanabad', with the Red Fort as its crowning glory, was founded by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the mid 17th century.
The three stations of this line, all underground, have been designed in accordance with the heritage of the area to provide glimpses of its rich past and vibrant present. With a number of wide display panels and other exhibits, the three stations have been designed in accordance with the heritage of the area to provide glimpses of its rich past and vibrant present.
"The stations have been done in granite with stone cladding in the interiors. The facade of the Red Fort station is similar to the facade of Lal Qila and has been done in red sandstone," DMRC spokesperson Anuj Dayal said.
Heritage Line to help de-congestion
With the long-awaited launch of the 5.17-km-long corridor, the Kashmere gate metro station has become the first station in the DMRC network to have three interchange facilities - passengers will now have seamless movement between the Yellow, Red and Violet Lines.
The Kashmere Gate intersection is very close to an inter-state bus terminus, a DTC bus stand and also the Old Delhi Railway station of Northern Railway apart from important Markets like Chandni Chowk, Chawri Bazar and Sadar Bazar.
The Heritage Line is essentially an extension of the Violet Line that runs between Faridabad and ITO presently. It will take considerable load off the Chandni Chowk and Chawri Bazar stations of the Yellow Line.
"The Violet line will help in de-congestion also. We are going to have five interchanges in this line- Kashmere Gate, Mandi House, Central Secretariat, Kalkaji and Lajpat Nagar, so automatically the crowd will get dispersed," Dayal said.
The Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety (CMRS) gave the green signal for the formal launch of the 5.17-km-long corridor on Friday following a two-day inspection early this week.
With the opening of this line, the total metro network currently operational in Delhi and NCR is now 217 kilometres with 162 stations. In India, 346 kilometres of Metro Rail is operational at present.
Around 530 kilometres is under construction in various cities and more than 800 kilometres is under consideration with various state governments, Naidu said.
'Heritage Line' will bring more tourists to monuments, says Naidu
Complimenting the Delhi Metro for the opening of the line, Naidu said that old Delhi is the tourism and cultural hub of the city where many monuments of great historical importance are located.
This line will bring many more people to these monuments as now the visitors will not have to worry about traffic jams and parking hassles.
"We all remember how the first metro connection to this part of the city had revived the market areas of Chandni Chowk and Chawri Bazar a decade ago. This connect will further help in boosting the economy in this part of Delhi," Naidu said.
Naidu said the construction of this line was full of challenges as the Delhi Metro engineers had to build through many congested areas as well as through stretches close to important historical monuments.
He also used the opportunity for drawing attention to the need for enhancing the public transport capacity in the city to provide the first and last mile connectivity.
He said that focus should be on more cycle tracks and better public transport in Delhi.
Kejriwal said the Delhi Metro has today become the pride of not only the city but the entire India. There are many countries now which are looking up to Delhi Metro and DMRC is providing consultancy to many towns and cities.
"From the point of view of environment protection, time management and economy, Delhi Metro has emerged as a very suitable mode of travel," he said.