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Cutting corners at cost of safety.

Metro platforms were to have screen doors but DMRC can't afford them

A PLATFORM screen door at the Rajiv Chowk Metro station could have averted Friday's incident. A 23-year-old man running on the platform collided with a 22-year-old woman waiting for a train and both tumbled on to the tracks in front of the train. Both are still unconscious in hospital and will have at least one leg amputated.

Platform screen doors are full height, total barriers between the station floor and ceiling, while platform edge doors are full height, but do not reach the ceiling and thus do not create a total barrier.

The Delhi Metro, in fact, are building platform screen doors on the Airport Metro Express Link. The stretch will have a maximum speed of up to 180 km/hr.

"We made provisions for platform screen doors on all the stations but the exorbitant costs came in the way of them being installed. But they may be installed in future," Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) spokesperson Anuj Dayal said. "Half steel railings have been put up at busy stations and marshals have been deployed on platforms to ensure that people stand in queue behind the yellow line." Dayal said most Metros worldwide, including the Metro system in Kolkata, don't have screen doors. Contrary to the DMRC's claims, almost all advanced Metro systems in the world use platform screen doors. A cheaper alternative is a half-sealed screen door, being installed at above-ground stations in Singapore.

While this is the first incident of people accidentally falling on the tracks, there have been as many as 30 suicide bids on the Metro tracks till date. Most lives have been saved by the quick reaction of the drivers.

Every time there is a suicide or a suicide bid on the tracks, Metro operations get affected for at least 20 minutes. Even if it is not during peak hours, the services of at least five trains from one side are affected. Each train, on an average, carries 1,500 passengers and if we assume each passenger on board buys a token worth Rs 10 on an average, every suicide or suicide bid costs the DMRC about Rs 1.5 lakh.

" These doors prevent accidental falls off the platform on to the track area, suicide attempts and homicides by pushing. The doors also reduce the risk of accidents, especially from service trains passing through the station at high speed," a Metro expert said.

Platform screen doors can reduce air- conditioning and ventilation costs by isolating the platforms from the train, track, and tunnels. A Metro expert said it has been demonstrated in many cases that savings on the costs of airconditioning alone can cover the cost of the installation of the platform screen doors. There is the potential for costs to be recovered, typically within three to four years.

A train driver can approach a station at a higher speed in confidence, secure in the knowledge that the line ahead is clear.

Access to the tunnels is also restricted and the need for motormen or conductors is eliminated when used in conjunction with Automatic Train Operation, thereby reducing manpower costs, the expert added.

The Metro system in Singapore, as well as other advanced Metro systems in the world are taking giant strides in implementing a safe, clean and comfortable ride for their passengers. The DMRC, on the other hand, is still struggling to complete the proposed stretches before the Commonwealth Games in October.

No wonder the Mass Rapid Transport system, as the Metro is called in Singapore, bagged the " Best Metro in Asia Pacific" award while the DMRC just bagged the " Most Improved Metro" award at the 3rd Metro Awards ceremony in London on March 23.


In Singapore, all underground platforms have screen doors, which are synchronised to open with the doors of the train which stops

A barrier of glass runs the entire length of the platform and helps prevent suicides, enable climate control and prevent unauthorised access to restricted areas

Half- height platform screen doors are being built at all above- ground stations <p>As of now, above- ground stations have open platforms with a wide yellow line drawn 70 cm from each platform edge. Passengers have to stand at a safe distance from arriving trains or face a hefty fine and/ or imprisonment

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Mar 28, 2010
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