Airport Metro will be back on tracks next week


Gets safety clearance at reduced speed, travel time will nearly double.

Six months after operations were suspended over safety concerns, the Airport Metro service will be back on the tracks as early as Monday or Tuesday next. It will run at 50 kmph, down from the 90-100 kmph it did earlier. The speed will be increased gradually after inspection of the line.

On Friday, the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety (CMRS) showed the green light for resumption of service after giving safety clearance to the 22.7-km line. CMRS R K Kadam sent a seven-page clearance document to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).

"The CMRS has issued approval for commencement of operations on the Airport Metro line. The corridor is now fit for operation," a DMRC spokesperson said. The approval came 48 hours after the CMRS completed a two-day inspection of the corridor.

The Airport Metro is a public-private partnership between the DMRC and Reliance Infra-backed operator Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Ltd (DAMEPL). Services on the line were suspended on July 8, 2012, after structural defects were detected.

The clearance for resumption of service has come with a rider. The CMRS has said the initial speed limit has to be 50 kmph. "The speed limit will be increased gradually after periodic inspection by the DMRC," sources said, adding that the DMRC had asked for a speed limit of 80 kmph.

The Airport Metro line was designed as a high-speed corridor with coaches running at 120 kmph. Before services were suspended, the Metro touched a peak speed of 105 kmph.

The new speed restriction is likely to affect travel time. The estimated travel time from New Delhi Metro station to Terminal 3 of the airport was 18 minutes. This distance will now be covered in 30 minutes.

The CMRS report has called for periodic inspection of the corridor. "The repair work has been found fit to begin service of the Metro line. But there should be periodic monitoring... The track and bearing should be inspected regularly," it stated.

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