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Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) is a high-speed rail-based mass transit system which is being planned, developed, and deployed in the national capital region (NCR). Initially three corridors are proposed viz., Delhi-Meerut, Delhi-Alwar, and Delhi-Panipat. RRTS is designed to provide fast, reliable, and comfortable transportation services for passengers traveling within NCR.
The need for RRTS is driven by the following factors:
- Population pressure: RRTS will help to diversify population pressure towards satellite towns. People would be able to work in Delhi and live in Meerut or Panipat.
- Pollution: RRTS is a reliable, cleaner, and faster alternative that can reduce vehicular pollution, a major contributor to the air pollution in NCR.
- Economic Growth: The NCR is a key logistics hub of India. Efficient transportation services are needed to sustain high economic growth and take India towards goals of $5 trillion and $10 trillion economy.
- Ease of doing business: RRTS will enable businesses to optimize their operational costs, and maximize the human resource potential.
E.g., ability to tap talent from distant areas.
- Development Aspirations: It will connect people with economic opportunities. It can improve female labour force participation and improve incomes.
- Urbanization: NCR is rapidly urbanizing but in a disorganized and unplanned way leading to issues like urban sprawl, gentrification, and housing crisis. RRTS will help improve urbanization through better integration of peri-urban areas with NCR.
However, implementing RRTS and similar systems in India presents several challenges as discussed below:
- Funding: RRTS systems require significant investments which faces challenges from competing priorities for public funds.
E.g., Delhi government has shown reluctance to commit investment in Delhi-Alwar and Delhi-Panipat corridors.
- Land acquisition: RRTS like systems often require acquisition of large amounts of land, rightof- way. In densely populated urban conglomerates like NCR, this can be a complicated and time-consuming process.
- Financial Viability:
- With incremental opening of small corridors, the adoption is likely to be low. Viable ridership would require important economic centres and grids of multiple corridors to become operational
- RRTS faces competition for ridership from Delhi-Meerut expressway. Owners of private vehicles might not shift to RRTS, while those travelling in sub-urban rail may not shift due to higher cost of travel in RRTS.
- Technology dependence: Dependence on foreign vendors for rolling stock, operations, or project execution limits the scale of roll out due to prohibitive costs.
E.g., use of imported trainset despite indigenous capabilities in semi-high-speed rail like Vande Bharat.
- Environmental protests on issues like felling of trees can induce inordinate delays and cost overrun.
E.g., Mumbai Metro’s Line-3 was delayed by more than a year due to Save Aarey protests.
The development of RRTS systems is part of the government’s broader efforts to modernize India’s transportation infrastructure and provide more sustainable and efficient transportation options for its growing population. By addressing the challenges and working collaboratively with stakeholders, RRTS and similar systems could be implemented in other urban conglomerates as well to reap the benefits of improved connectivity, reduced congestion, better urbanization, and sustainable development.
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