From the get go, Dr. E. Shreedharan wanted Delhi Metro to be a “no compromise” world class product which can not only live up to, but beat the global standards.

First step: He went to the fundamentals and understood what they are solving for. Those were 3 pillars:



Safety of the citizens

So, no matter what they did, it had to be built on those 3 basic pillars.

You have to respect time of people, because ultimately your train is a solution for their time. Why build this super expensive proposition in the first place, if they have to wait?

Delhi Metro was built to be fast: Fast trains, fast decision-making and fast execution. At every level emphasis was made to make decisions quickly & get tenders passed quickly. Every part of the project was reversed timed to make them punctual in delivery. All this could be possible because of a very lean organisational setup with not a lot of layers to complicate the decision-making process.

Dr. Sreedharan  kept everything under his control through a special agreement. He wanted full autonomy on the decisions and rarely let others entities govern anything in his organisation.

Mumbai and Bangalore Metro have shown us what happens when a metro project doesn’t pay attention to “time”.
The team put in every effort to become better and learn. They understood their lack of expertise and it would be beneficial to learn from metros in Europe and South Asia. Their team visited countries like Japan and studied their metros, their new technologies and their practices. Taking note of everything, they came back, mix-matched and created a new mix which was perfect for the Indian context.

Second step: Integrity was the core principle guiding the organisation.

At a time when half the system was corrupted and half in jail (specially after the commonwealth games scam), Delhi Metro was the only organisation standing without a single scam reported.

Third step: The toughest nut to crack in India is Punctuality. Since the existence of this organisation was because of “time”, punctuality was most important

In other countries, if a train arrives within 3 minutes, it’s considered punctual, but Delhi took it to a whole new level..If a train arrives within 1 minute, only then it is considered punctual. We have to understand that all this was done at a time when India wasn’t very advanced in infrastructure. We didn’t have the talent, the technology and not even the will to pull-off something like this. But when this happened, it changed everything. It helped us build new indigenous engineering practices in India which ultimately helped build more metro trains. Right now all metros carriers are made in India.

Convenience was the next pillar.

Imagine a metro station in an area which is not easily approachable, or imagine having to do a long auto journey to reach the metro station. All this was solved in Delhi by making the network denser and longer.

Fully air-conditioned, comfortable seating, and enough standing area. This was an added comfort and a great attraction point. You’ll never see people litter or spit on the walls.

Because the stations are kept so clean, the passengers also maintain decorum. They kept good care of convenience during the construction too. Again, if the metro project is slowing down the speed of normal travel during construction, then it’s hurting their core principle of “time”.

Before this project whenever there was a major infrastructure project in India, the normal public went through a lot of discomfort. Delhi Metro always planned ahead and built systems to never affect common people. There was care and respect for citizens.

Last pillar was Safety.

If passengers don’t feel safe, they won’t prefer it. A coach was kept reserved for women for that. CRPF jawans protects Delhi Metro so that people feel safe while traveling. Want to understand the scale of the impact? Delhi Metro carries roughly 2 Million people a day. That’s like the whole population of Paris traveling in the metro line everyday.