During the evening hours of 13 June, commuters on Delhi Metro's Blue Line were stranded after the overhead wiring was hit by an eagle, making it sag and cause a short circuit.
It took the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) almost two hours to do the necessary repair work and until then trains ran on a single line from Noida City and Vaishali to west Delhi's Dwarka, that too during peak hours when office-goers were done for the day and heading home.
The Blue Line is the busiest of all Delhi Metro lines, carrying 30 percent of the 30 lakh commuters who use it everyday. Unfortunately, it is also the one most vulnerable to snags.
The Blue Line runs largely overground and that exposes it to potential obstructions such as the bird hit which caused yesterday's shut down. But a recent report in the Hindustan Times pointed out another reason.
DMRC officials have pointed out that the signalling system used by the Blue Line is outdated and that is the main reason behind the delays.
The DMRC had used the best available technology in 2005, when the line was inaugurated, but the signalling system has become obsolete. The newer metro lines are equipped with new signalling systems.
It takes longer to resolve glitches in the old signalling system and a delay in one train's schedule affects other trains as well.
In February this year, a glitch in the signalling system at the Dwarka station on the Blue Line had caused delays.
In December 2016, operations on the Blue Line were disrupted for almost two hours, and even after the long wait, the DMRC only managed to solve the problem partially. A few days earlier, smoke detected in one of the coaches due to faulty air conditioning had caused panic and delayed services. And, in 2015, a signalling system problem had caused disruptions on the Blue Line.
Changing the signalling system would require the line to shut down for months and would inconvenience tens of thousands of people. Regardless, the DMRC needs to come up with a solution to the problem.
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