The National Capital Region is set to become a lot closer to Delhi with the Union Cabinet giving its approval to the formation of the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC). The NCRTC will be responsible for “designing, developing, implementing, financing, operating and maintaining the Rapid Regional Transit System (RRTS) projects in the NCR to provide fast transit to NCR towns'. The RRTS is a high-speed rail commuter based transit system. Put simply, it will be a lot like the Delhi Metro, with the difference being that it would cover a much larger distance.
There are three major rail corridor projects that are in the pipeline: Delhi-Sonepat- Panipat, Delhi-Gurgaon-Alwar, Delhi-Ghaziabad- Meerut. In 2009, the Planning Commission had put these three corridors on a high priority list. According to estimates provided in a feasibility report for the project, the three corridors are expected to have a daily ridership of 17.37 lakh by 2016. This number is expected to increase to 36.33 lakh by year 2041.
In fact, the success of the Delhi Metro has played no small part in motivating the Union government to work towards this project. The NCRTC plan clearly states that it has been “envisaged to undertake design construction, operation and maintenance of the RRTS project on similar pattern as the DMRC'.
The benefits that the RRTS project will lead to are manifold. Firstly, it will undoubtedly help in de-congesting Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Noida and Ghaziabad and reduce the strain on the infrastructure that has been caused by the burgeoning population in these cities. Secondly, it will bring Delhi a lot closer to people in Meerut, Alwar and Panipat making it easier for them to commute to the national capital every day. Thirdly, better connectivity through the RRTS would boost commercial activity in these towns. A construction boom is only to be expected as well.
But more than these factors, the real impact of the project will be seen in the large number of lives that it will touch.
For instance, a student from Meerut can easily come to attend her classes in Delhi University and go back home in comfort and safety, a resident of Panipat need not think twice before taking up a job at a call centre job in Gurgaon, and even a Delhi couple can easily take their children for a day’s picnic to Alwar and Sariska instead of sticking to ‘mall outings’.
The NCRTC will be set up in two months time with an initial seed capital of Rs 100 crore, which will be jointly borne by the Centre as well as the governments of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi.
The Urban Development Ministry and the Railway Ministry will each contribute 22.5 per cent, the NCR Planning Board will contribute 5 per cent, and the governments of NCT Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan will contribute 12.5 per cent each.
The Delhi-Sonepat-Panipat corridor will be 111 km long and the daily ridership is estimated to be 3.77 lakh in 2016 which may grow to 9.83 lakh by 2041.
The Delhi-Gurgaon-Alwar corridor is 180 km long and estimated to carry 6.9 lakh people daily in 2016. This will go up to 15.1 lakh by 2041. The Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut corridor is 90 km long and would carry an estimated 5.7 lakh people every day in 2016 and 11.4 lakh by 2041.
The total length of the three corridors to be developed by NCRTC is 381 km.