New Delhi: The rapidly expanding Delhi Metro, in its 14th year, is set to spread its wings further by venturing deep into the National Capital Region (NCR) in 2016.
With the addition of around 114 km in its network, and 18 new interchange stations, Delhi Metro will take a giant leap towards augmenting the city's public transportation and is likely to help keep lakhs of cars off the city's roads, a pre- requisite for success of anti-pollution measures like 'odd- even'.
A study by Central Road Research Institute ( CERI) says that metro helped keep around 4 lakh cars off roads in 2014. The numbers may increase exponentially once the new sections are launched by the end of 2016.
According to official data, work in the two brand new corridors, 58.6-km-long Majlis Park-Shiv Vihar (Pink Line) and 34-km-long Janakpuri West-Botanical Garden (Magenta Line) have been completed by around 80 per cent each.
While the former will have 38 stations, 23 are coming up on the latter. In total, there will be 27 interchange stations by the end of 2016, including the currently operational nine.
The crisscrossing of the new lines with the existing corridors at many places will lead to the emergence of these interchange stations, thus, dramatically shortening the distance between two different parts of the city by up to 15 km at some places.
For example, Hauz Khas Metro station will come up as a link between Yellow Line and the under construction Janakpuri West-Botanical Garden corridor (Line 8).
"Passengers coming from Gurgaon will be able to get down at Hauz Khas and take a direct train to Kalkaji via Line 8 instead of having to take the Violet Line from Central Secretariat.
"And by doing so they would save traveling of about 13.14 km. It will also bring Gurgaon and Noida closer as the line 8 extends till Noida Botanical Garden," a senior metro official said.
In 2015, metro expanded to 213 km with 160 stations and seven different corridors crisscrossing the city while bringing into its fold nearby satellite townships like Faridabad.
In fact, the launch of the extension till Escorts Mujesar of Faridabad was the main highlight of 2015. It was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Metro was also extended to Samaypur Badli on the city's north and till the busy office hub of ITO in the heart of the capital. Ridership touched a record high of 32.05 lakh on August 28.
Among the other sections nearing completion, the 9-km- long Central Secretariat-Kashmere Gate line, which is already operational till ITO, 4-km-long Dwarka-Najafgarh section and 11-km-long Mundka-Bahadurgarh section figure prominently.
Over 90 per cent work on the line till Kashmere Gate, also known as the 'Heritage Corridor', is complete while the same was 51 and 61 per cent for the other two till December 2015.
Metro is also expected to strongly pitch for a fare revision owing to significant rise in its operational costs. DMRC MD Mangu Singh had said that a fare hike is "long overdue".
Fares were last revised in 2009 when the minimum fare was raised from Rs 6 to Rs 8 with the maximum fare being raised to Rs 30 from Rs 22.
2015 also saw instances of major snags, mainly on the Blue Line, the longest functional corridor of the metro that connects Dwarka to Noida City Centre and Vaishali. In July, commuters had a tough time as an overhead wire snapped at the Yamuna Bank station, forcing them out on the tracks through emergency doors.
Bordering on the infamy of being a failed project, the Airport Express Line showed signs of a "turnaround" with nearly 50 per cent jump in its ridership over 2014, following a string of measures including reduction of fares by over 40 per cent, and increasing the frequency of trains.
It also decided to go for 70 additional trips in December to cope with an expected rush in ridership owing to the odd- even measures of the Delhi government, under which cars with odd and even number registration plates are plying on alternate days.