Will policy changes stall Indian metro expansion (IRJ)

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As populations swell, India’s urban infrastructure is under pressure and vast investment is required to deliver the changes needed to keep people moving. While China and other countries have forged ahead with metro development in their major cities, India has lagged behind. Early investment was inconsistent with the first system opening in Kolkata following 12 years of construction in 1984 and the second in Delhi not launching until 2002. However, since then there has been strong growth in planning and construction with eight new systems opening in the last five years.

At 296km, the Delhi metro network dwarfs’ other systems in India and accounts for more than half the total metro trackage in the country. It has a daily ridership of 2.2 million and operates profitably without government subsidies. The system is currently the ninth biggest network in the world, ahead of the Madrid metro at 288km. Delhi has a further 84km of lines under construction with an additional 111km planned. When completed, this could make the network the third-largest in the world at 491km.

Delhi’s metro has been a huge success, and metro projects have been placed high on the Indian government’s development agenda. Metros are not only seen as a core solution to urban mobility demands but also as a means of transforming cities in accordance with the vision of prime minister, Mr Narendra Modi. The government has allocated $US 2.21bn for metro projects in its 2018-19 budget.

India’s 2006 National Transport Policy first proposed that every city with a population of more than 2 million would have a metro system. In August 2014, the government announced financial assistance would be provided for metro projects in cities with more than 1 million residents. In May 2015, the Urban Developments Ministry’s proposal to build metros in 50 cities was approved by the government. In August 2017, the cabinet approved a new Metro Rail Policy with the aim of stimulating metro expansion across India. The new policy can be broken down into nine components:

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Written by Long Branch Mike