There is no doubt that Delhi Metro Rail has been hit by a network problem. A host of negative reports and negative stories about the service have made the chances of the overall success of the project very slim.
Today, when a project begins to get delayed, a new network problem usually develops almost overnight. The Government Railway Administration (GRAA) is now in the process of a massive network upgrade. A rather worrisome part of the network has a fairly high number of shortcomings.
The frequent breakdowns in the new Delhi Metro are mostly caused by a single reason - Airtel. No other party has an equal role in the failure of the Delhi Metro. Even the erstwhile Western Railway's failures were caused by the same company.
The new Delhi Metro was supposed to be run on the existing network of Airtel. The cost factor was not a problem. The Delhi Metro had huge amounts of money for purchases, licenses and maintenance of such a network. Now it looks like it will be a more expensive task to change over to the new network.
The biggest network problem for the Delhi Metro was lack of proper communication with the control rooms. After the recent spate of problems, the GRAA has started asking for the help of a third party firm to handle these matters. Since it would be a huge investment for the Government, they want a private firm to be involved in managing the network. It seems as if the entire Metro network has turned into a private responsibility.
In India, we have seen a series of delays, most of them due to public sector concerns, which resulted in the postponement of major projects. These delays have shown a pattern. A number of other major cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and others are now facing the same network problem.
The place where the three network centres are clustered is known as the Central Communication Hub. The officials of the Gurgaon station, which houses the metro in Haryana, are found to be completely incompetent and do not work effectively. Even the stations of Delhi and Ghaziabad show similar signs of lack of coordination between the Gurgaon station and other stations.
Airtel has a monopoly over the Delhi Metro. If this monopoly is taken away, then the success of the Delhi Metro becomes an uphill task. But at least we can assume that the entire Metro network in Delhi will soon be in the hands of private players.
At present, the Delhi Metro is running in a poor condition. The maintenance issues of the tracks and stations are always at the top of the priority list.
If the central hub is not competent enough to deal with the problems, then the entire network will be slowed down. But even if the companies managing the network fail, the centre of the city will be cut off from the rest of the city. Today, people live near the center of the city.
While the Delhi Metro was supposed to improve the comfort of the daily commuters, the entire network is headed for an embarrassing end. In fact, the State Railway Board is in the process of a planned network upgrade. It is only the local connections that will remain.