Suburban Railways in Metro Cities

Introduction

The term 'metropolitan city' is commonly used for major or important cities. Most metropolitan cities in India have grown in an unplanned and hapazard manner. Even in places where city masterplans were available, the actual lands barely resembles what was envisaged in the plans. Delhi is one such example. The rapid growth in the population and economy of metropolitan cities has resulted in several social and economic problems. The imbalance in the distribution of population and economic activity in these cities has led to large-scale intracity movement resulting in a serious transportation problem.

There are generally many limitations in the movement of people in these metropolitan cities due to the following reasons.

The main problems of metropolitan cities are outlined below.

(a) The traffic capacity of the roads in the major metropolitan cities has not kept pace with the growing demands of traffic and this has resulted in severe congestion on the roads, particularly during peak hours and in central business districts.

(b) The average vehicular speed in these cities is about 20 to 30 km/hr and in some of the congested parts of the core areas, speeds have been reduced to as low as 5 to 10 km/hr. A heavy, often unidirectional, peak load is required to be carried through certain routes during specific hours everyday. The design and capacity of these roads are unable to meet the requirements of traffic and because of the several architectural structures that have come upon their either side; the further widening of these roads is not possible.

(c) The number of road vehicles has increased considerably in the last few years, of the order of 5 to 10% per year in the four metropolitan cities. In Delhi alone, the number of registered vehicles has multiplied in the last 10-year period. These cities keep expanding in all directions at an alarming rate, placing additional demands on the existing transport system.

(d) Environment pollution is widespread in metropolitan cities on account of the increase in vehicular traffic and all round congestion. This has led to

increased levels of noise and dust, increased vehicular emissions, and a loss of sunlight and daylight.

(e) The congestion on the roads in metropolitan cities has resulted in a large number of accidents. About 1.2 million road accidents take place annually in India, killing about 85,000 people and injuring more than 0.1 million.

(f) There is a considerable wastage of time of a large number of people staying in metropolitan cities on account of the slow movement of vehicles and the formation of long queues on the roads.

A possible solution to these problems is to establish a proper mass transport system. The existing transport facilities must be suitably augmented and expanded to meet the growing traffic demands. All types of road transport such as two wheelers, autorickshaws, cars, and buses have a maximum load capacity. Depending on the traffic density, one possible solution would be to strengthen and develop electric rail services, which, besides providing high-capacity transit facilities, also help substantially in energy conservation and environmental preservation. Further, from the point of view of relieving the roads of excess traffic and also of conserving energy, there is a need for urgent and deliberate measures that will discourage commuters from using personal modes of transport and promote the use of public conveyances instead.

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