India’s Metro System Set to Become World’s Second Largest in 2.5 Years: Hardeep Puri

New Delhi, 20 May 2024 – In a significant announcement, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri highlighted the remarkable strides India has made in urban metro transport over the past decade. Speaking at an event in the national capital on May 19, Puri expressed confidence that India is on track to boast the world’s second-largest urban metro system within the next two and a half years. This ambitious expansion underscores the government’s commitment to enhancing urban mobility and addressing the challenges of rapid urbanisation.

The Metro Boom: A Decade of Transformation

India’s metro systems have seen unprecedented growth over the last ten years, transforming urban transportation across major cities. As of today, the country operates 945 kilometers of metro networks, which serve as vital arteries for millions of urban commuters. The Delhi Metro alone accounts for a substantial portion of this, with 73 lakh of the one crore daily metro passengers across India travelling within the Delhi capital region.

Puri underscored the critical role of metro systems in easing intra-city travel, particularly as urban populations continue to swell. “Today, even though the population of the city is expanding massively, it is still easy to get from one part of the city to the other within a reasonable period of time. More people are taking to urban transport,” he noted.

1,000 Kilometers of Metro Construction Underway

One of the key highlights of Puri’s address was the announcement of ongoing construction of an additional 1,000 kilometers of metro lines, slated for completion in the near future. This expansion will nearly double the current operational metro network, cementing India’s position as a global leader in urban mass transit.

The new projects span multiple cities, each tailored to address specific urban transport needs and challenges. This massive infrastructure initiative aims to provide seamless, efficient, and eco-friendly transportation options to millions more residents, significantly reducing the reliance on private vehicles and alleviating traffic congestion.

The Visionary Legacy of Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Puri credited the visionary leadership of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for initiating India’s metro journey in 2002. Vajpayee’s foresight in launching the Delhi Metro project has had a transformative impact on urban transport, setting a precedent for other cities to follow.

The Delhi Metro, which began operations in 2002, has expanded rapidly over the past two decades. It now covers over 390 kilometers, connecting the national capital with its satellite cities. This extensive network has been pivotal in managing the urban sprawl and providing a reliable alternative to road transport, which often suffers from severe congestion and pollution.

Expanding Beyond Delhi

The success of the Delhi Metro has inspired similar projects in other Indian cities. Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Jaipur are among the cities that have developed their own metro systems, each contributing to the overall metro network in the country.

Mumbai’s metro system, which is undergoing rapid expansion, aims to cover 337 kilometers upon completion of all phases. Bengaluru, another major IT hub, is extending its metro network to address the growing demands of its burgeoning population. Similarly, Hyderabad’s metro, which is one of the largest in the country, continues to expand its reach, improving connectivity and reducing travel time significantly.

Benefits of Metro Expansion

The expansion of metro systems brings numerous benefits. Firstly, it offers a sustainable and environmentally friendly mode of transport. Metro systems significantly reduce carbon emissions by cutting down the number of private vehicles on the road. This is particularly crucial for Indian cities, many of which struggle with high levels of air pollution.

Secondly, metro systems enhance the efficiency of urban transport. By providing a fast, reliable, and comfortable means of travel, metros reduce the time and stress associated with daily commutes. This, in turn, improves the quality of life for urban residents.

Moreover, the metro expansion drives economic growth. The construction and operation of metro systems create jobs and stimulate local economies. Additionally, improved transport connectivity attracts businesses and investments, further boosting economic development.

Challenges and the Way Forward

While the progress is commendable, the expansion of metro systems in India is not without challenges. Financial constraints, land acquisition issues, and coordination among multiple stakeholders often pose significant hurdles. Ensuring timely completion of projects while maintaining quality standards requires meticulous planning and execution.

However, the government’s commitment, combined with advancements in technology and project management, is helping to overcome these challenges. Innovative funding mechanisms, such as public-private partnerships (PPP), are being explored to mobilise the necessary resources. Additionally, leveraging modern construction techniques and materials can expedite project timelines and enhance durability.

India’s ambitious metro expansion plan represents a pivotal moment in the country’s urban transport landscape. With 1,000 kilometers of new metro lines under construction, India is poised to become the world’s second-largest urban metro system within the next two and a half years. This achievement reflects not only the government’s vision and determination but also the nation’s capacity for innovation and growth.

As more cities join the metro revolution, millions of urban residents will benefit from improved connectivity, reduced travel time, and a cleaner environment. The legacy of visionary leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee continues to inspire progress, ensuring that India’s urban transport systems are equipped to meet the challenges of the future. The journey of India’s metros is a testament to the transformative power of infrastructure development, setting the stage for a more sustainable and prosperous urban future.

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