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More trouble for Airport Metro Express

Last updated on: October 27, 2012 15:57 IST

More trouble for Airport Metro Express

BS Reporter in New Delhi
Four months after it was shut for repair, following detection of cracks on the civil structure, the trouble for the showcase Delhi Airport Metro Express looks to be increasing further, with the two sides - Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and the concessionaire, Reliance Infrastructure Ltd - planning to go for arbitration.

Reliance Infra, a subsidiary of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, had earlier requested the project be restructured. "Issues raised by Delhi Airport Metro Express (DAME) regarding financial non-viability of the project, besides their request of restructuring, have been rejected by DMRC. On DAME's request, the dispute is now being referred to arbitration," DMRC chairman Mangu Singh said.

According to initial estimates, 40,000 people were expected to use the 23-km line on a daily basis, but the daily ridership could never cross the 21,000 mark.

The average daily ridership stood at 17,000 when the line was closed for repair in July. Asked what kind of financial restructuring Reliance Infra was looking for, CEO Lalit Jalan refused to share details.

Singh also said through a statement issued today that the issue of termination of the concession agreement had been disputed and "has been referred for resolution through arbitration proceedings".

Singh, however, didn't clarify on termination of the agreement. DAME had served a termination notice to DMRC, according to a source close to the development.

Even as Reliance Infra remained tight-lipped, a DAME spokesperson said in an email: "The repair work executed by DMRC is nearing completion. We will recommence the operations of the Airport Metro line after necessary safety clearances. DAME, as the concessionaire, will run the line."

DAME informed it was likely to meet DMRC officials next week to discuss the matter. He, however, refused to comment on whether Reliance Infra had sent a termination notice to DMRC.

The flagship Airport Metro Express line, the country's first Metro rail project under the public-private partnership model, was built at a cost of Rs 5,700 crore (Rs 57 billion).

While DMRC had carried out the civil work, DAME and Spanish train maker CAF were to operate the line for 30 years, according to the original agreement. However, cracks appeared in the civil structure barely a year and a half after the line began operations.

Photographs: Kind courtesy, delhitravel.org

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