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The Airport Express line, the fastest Metro link in the country, will shut down for an indefinite period from July 8. The reason: Delhi Airport Metro Express Pvt Ltd, the Reliance Infrastructure-led consortium that operates the line, claims running trains on the elevated section of the alignment is a safety hazard. “We will suspend operations from July 8 to carry out repair and maintenance work because of defects found in the civil structure,” said a DAMEPL spokesperson. A Delhi Metro spokesperson said the corporation was notified about the decision on Friday. “Yes, DMRC received a communication today evening from the concessionaire operating the Airport Metro express line that they intend to stop train services... Read more...
from Sunday. We would be asking the concessionaire to intimate the date by which they would be able to resume operations.” LINE UNSAFE? In May, DMRC chief Mangu Singh says many ‘shortcomings’ in running of Airport line. Cites speed and frequency of trains, and service conditions In June, Reliance Infra-led consortium gets independent visual inspection done on elevated section of line. Report says 250 of the 2,100 bearings supporting the girders ‘defective’ UD ministry says it will get a joint DMRC-concessionaire inquiry conducted with Indian Railways’ help Report of joint probe will be submitted in 10 days and railways will review remedial measures needed AIRPORT METRO MESS Elevated stretch is poorly built: Probe UD Ministry Says Faults Can Be Rectified On July 2, DAMEPL had shared the findings of an independent inquiry into the elevated section of the line with the Union ministry of urban development. It was subsequently shared with the Delhi government and DMRC. Said an official present in the MoUD meeting, “Many bearings supporting the girders on the elevated line seem to have been compromised. The independent report is quite damaging.” The sudden decision to close the line, however, is also being seen as another chapter in the ongoing dispute between the concessionaire and DMRC. Two months ago, DMRC chief Mangu Singh had come down heavily on DAMEPL for its lacklustre performance, saying there were many “shortcomings” in the way the Airport Metro Express was being run, especially the frequency of trains, speed on the line and service conditions. At the time, DAMEPL had said speeds had come down to accommodate “checks and balances to prevent any untoward incidences”. In June, matters seem to have escalated with the concessionaire conducting an independent assessment and inspection of the elevated section of the line which starts after Shivaji stadium and goes on till a tunnel prior to the Delhi Aerocity station. The station on the elevated stretch is Dhaula Kuan. The minutes of the July 2 meeting with UD ministry officials (a copy of which is with TOI) are accompanied by pictures of the “defects” in the elevated viaduct, said sources. Sudhir Krishna, secretary (UD), confirmed that the meeting had resulted in the UD ministry ordering an internal inquiry. Said Krishna, “There have been doubts raised about the elevated section by DAMEPL, which DMRC says have been addressed. However, we have asked for a joint inquiry to be conducted by DMRC and DAMEPL with the assistance of Indian Railways.” Krishna, however, said that the defects do not seem to be a cause of serious worry. “Prima facie, the faults seem to be rectifiable. DMRC is already looking into the matter,” he said. Others present in the meeting however, admit that the independent probe, conducted by Shirish Patel & Associates (SPA), indicts the quality of construction material used in the elevated viaduct. The report said 250 of the 2,100 bearings on the elevated line were found to be defective. Bearing are concrete structures on top of pillars on which girders rest. The report (a copy of which is with TOI) points to a small chunk of slab on the U girder, located beyond the bearing on Pier P62, which has got dislodged. “This is a cause of serious concern and should be examined without further loss of time,” it says. Pictures shared at the meeting show cracks in bearings, tilted girders, fillings near girders falling out and parts of the pier caps missing. Krishna admitted that since the pictures were not dated, it was hard to determine if the damage had occurred after repairs done by DMRC. An official in the railway ministry confirmed that a joint inspection by Delhi Metro and the concessionaire, with the assistance of railways, would be conducted soon. “The report is expected to be submitted within 10 days, and a course of action decided by then. The remedial measures required will first be reviewed by the railways,” said the official. Confirming the suspension of services, a DAMEPL spokesperson said, “Airport Metro Express Line will be suspended from Sunday for an indefinite period.”