New Delhi’s metro, which is clean, modern, air-conditioned and quiet, is a stark contrast to the congested, smoggy roads of India’s capital.
Its first line opened in 2002 and in the years since then it has expanded its network across the city, with more than 200 kilometres of track. In its third phase of construction, work is under way to weave another 150km of lines to more areas.
The Delhi metro runs more than 2,800 train trips every day, carrying 2.8 million passengers daily.
“We are one of the few metro systems in the world making an operating profit from day one,” says Anuj Dayal, the executive director for corporate communications, at Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, a joint venture between India’s government and the government of Delhi. “The reason why we are able to make an operating profit is we are getting 20 per cent of our revenue through non-ticket resources.
“We are able to generate money through advertisements, shop rentals. We have built a hotel which we have given on lease. We have built an IT park on our land, which we have given on lease. If you rely only on ticket revenues you will definitely be in loss because of the high investment involved,” he says.
“These projects world over are justified, government spending is there, because of the high economic rate of return. The financial rate of return is always low.”
Ticket fares on the Delhi metro are among the lowest in the world, ranging between just 8 rupees and 30 rupees.
Sixty per cent of the funding for the project came from the Japanese government in the form of loans and the remainder was provided by the federal and local governments.
A major challenge is that the trains are often “chock full” and “since the metro is new to the country, we had to spend a lot of time educating the public on how to use the system”, according to Mr Dayal.
He says the corporation organised “street plays in which we had to tell people how to use escalators, to ensure that they stand in line, to ensure that they don’t get stuck in train doors, so the initial one or two years was a challenge”.
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