Entering a metro station with the flick of a smart phone may sound like a dream but with the launch of the ITO-Kashmere Gate line on Sunday, it is set to translate into reality. The metro has installed, what it calls, “Dream Gates” in two stations of this corridor, popularly known as the ‘Heritage Line’ as it goes underneath old Delhi neighbourhoods such as the Red Fort and Jama Masjid. “Commuters using e-wallets like Paytm will be able to enter the Red Fort station. Upon entering the journey details the e-wallet will generate a QR code or a machine-readable code which the special entry gate will read and let the person walk in,” a metro official said.
Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will jointly inaugurate the line at 10 am on May 28 and it will be open for public use from 12 pm onwards, DMRC chief spokesman Anuj Dayal said. While the Red Fort stations will have two such gates in the pilot phase, commuters, for now, will be able to go to the next station that is Jama Masjid to make their exit in a similar manner through two special gates. The other new station is Delhi Gate.
However, the facility, touted as the first-of-its-kind, may not be available from Sunday itself as the new stations do not have cellular networks or wifi facilities at this point. With the long-awaited launch of the 5.17-km-long corridor, the Kashmere gate metro station will become the first station in the DMRC network to have three interchange facilities – passengers will have seamless movement between the Yellow, Red and Violet Lines.
The Kashmere Gate intersection is very close to an inter-state bus terminus, a DTC bus stand and also the Old Delhi Railway station of Northern Railway apart from important Markets like Chandni Chowk, Chawri Bazar and Sadar Bazar. The Heritage Line is essentially an extension of the Violet Line that runs between Faridabad and ITO presently. It will take considerable load off the Chandni Chowk and Chawri Bazar stations of the Yellow Line.
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Once the section is launched, residents of the densely- populated area, made up of areas in and around the Mughal seat of power ‘Shahjahanabad’, will have direct access to commercial centres such as Connaught Place, Janpath, offices in Central Secretariat, and the satellite town of Faridabad. ‘Shahjahanabad’, with the Red Fort as its crowning glory, was founded by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the mid 17th century. “The Violet line will help in de-congestion also. We are going to have five interchanges in this line- Kashmere Gate, Mandi House, Central Secretariat, Kalkaji and Lajpat Nagar, so automatically the crowd will get dispersed,” Dayal said.
With a number of wide display panels and other exhibits, the three stations have been designed in accordance with the heritage of the area to provide glimpses of its rich past and vibrant present. “The stations have been done in granite with stone cladding in the interiors. The facade of the Red Fort station is similar to the facade of Lal Qila and has been done in red sandstone,” Dayal said.
The Commissioner of Metro Railway Safety (CMRS) gave the green signal for the formal launch of the 5.17-km-long corridor yesterday following a two-day inspection early this week. After the launch, the total metro network in the city will be 218-km-long and the number of stations will be 164. DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation) chief Mangu Singh had said the line was well on course for launch last December but a labour crunch triggered by a ban on construction and demolition activities and demonetisation led to the delay.