In a candid interview with Vinay Kumar Singh, Managing Director of the NationalCapital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC), the spotlight is on the Delhi-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS). This article delves into the intricacies of this transformative project, exploring its operational success, future expansion plans, public response, and the broader implications for India's railways infrastructure.
The inauguration of the 17-km Sahibabad-Duhai priority section marked a significant milestone for the Delhi-Meerut RRTS. Singh reflects on the past year, emphasizing the team's dedicated efforts and the high enthusiasm following the Prime Minister's inauguration.
With the priority section operational, attention shifts to the ambitious Stage 2 of the project. Singh outlines the ongoing work, projecting the complete stretch to be operational by June 2025, highlighting the commitment to delivering world-class commuter services.
Addressing the response to the operational section, Singh acknowledges the decent public response. However, he clarifies that high ridership wasn't the primary objective. Instead, the phased approach aims to acclimatize operations and maintenance partners to the unique demands of the system.
A key aspect of the project is the 12-year contract with Deutsche Bahn India for the operation and maintenance of the 82-km-long Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut corridor. Singh provides insights into the significance of this partnership and the accompanying 15-year maintenance contract with Alstom for the rolling stock.
Singh sheds light on the evolution of the project's name, from the local moniker 'Rapid Rail' to the national significance of 'Namo Bharat.' The naming philosophy, influenced by public perception and government vision, reflects a broader national phenomenon.
Examining the fare structure, Singh estimates the cost to the commuter for the complete journey from Delhi to Meerut to be around Rs 300. He emphasizes that this is an upper limit, with plans for schemes and discounts, ensuring affordability and incentivizing frequent commuters.
Recognizing the limitations of relying solely on farebox revenues, Singh discusses the importance of non-farebox revenue streams. These include property development, advertisements, and collaborations with state governments on value-capture financing, ensuring sustainable financial viability.
Detailing the environmental aspects, Singh highlights the reduced fossil fuel consumption and the regenerative braking system of the Namo Bharat rolling stock. The commitment to covering 70% of the energy requirement through solar energy sets a new standard for eco-friendly transit solutions.
The interview explores NCRTC's unique positioning as implementers of the first RRTS, paving the way for consultancy roles. Singh hints at international collaborations, with discussions underway with the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.
Singh shares insights into the admiration garnered from international delegations, emphasizing how NCRTC's expertise is gaining global recognition. The potential collaborations with Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and international entities indicate India's emerging leadership in railways infrastructure.
Reflecting on India's progress in urban transportation, Singh acknowledges the strides made but underscores the need for more extensive efforts. Railways, he argues, present a sustainable solution, offering efficient and congestion-free transit options for the growing urban centers.
While Singh draws inspiration from European and Japanese railway systems, he proudly asserts that the RRTS has set global benchmarks. The successful implementation of technologies and the impact on the global stage position India as a leader in railways infrastructure.
Singh concludes by highlighting the transformative impact of the RRTS, not just on Indian railways but on a global scale. He notes how the project has brought India to the forefront of technological advancements in railways, earning admiration from countries with longstanding railway traditions.
The article concludes by emphasizing the significance of the Delhi-Meerut RRTS in reshaping India's railways landscape. The successful operationalization of the priority section and the visionary approach to commuter services position the project as a catalyst for future innovations in urban transportation.
(Based on his recent conversation with BW's Arjun Yadav)