Projects are normally considered successful if these are delivered on time, within budget, with all the functionality and achieving the set targets originally decided. In order for it to be deemed as a success, it must provide value to all the stakeholders. In broader logic, project success is intangible, realized through consensus, collaboration and communication. Delhi Metro is one stunning example of a success lesson to be learned. Delhi Metro Rail, whose first stage is completed, has shown what the success is all about. The fact provided that such a high profile project is not only completed well before time but within the proposed budget. It has shown what a project can achieve, earning praise from all sectors of life.


'Delhi Metro Rail Project' is by far the biggest urban intervention in India. This project was completed in very difficult urban environment. It is being constructed to world class standards with frontline technologies. Delhi's shiny metro system's first section was completed well ahead of schedule and within estimated budget of $2.3 billion, is a very rare example of how big projects can be efficiently completed.

Delhi is the capital of India and has a population of around 16 million people and until recently this huge cosmopolitan city had to rely on the existing roads for transport. The total length of roads in Delhi was around 1623 kilometres in 2005. There was always a problem from the ever increasing number of vehicles plying on its roads. The number of personal motor vehicles has increased rapidly to 4 million by 2005. The public transport already in place couldn't cope with the growing number of vehicles. This existing mass transport system was found to be inadequate to tackle the congestion on roads and the ever increasing pollution caused by automobiles.

Stifling road traffic congestion, large population, had become an economic liability. With more motor vehicles than Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai combined, overcrowding and pollution was threatening the capital's ability to reach its potential in the rapidly expanding Indian economy. Thus the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) was set up. Government of India joined hands with Government of its capital city, Delhi to establish DMRC on 5 March 1995, to build a rail based metro transport system in the city that will alleviate Delhi's ever growing transport congestion and vehicular pollution. Construction started on this project in October 1998 after more than forty years of studies into a rail-based mass transit system and the first phase was completed in December 2004. It was designed to integrate with other public transport. It is to be constructed in four phases which will cover approximately 245 kilometres and is scheduled to be finished in year 2021. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation is one of the four metros in the world to have operating profits among 135 metros globally. It started generating profits ever since it became operational. Building the metro rail system in Delhi has been a massive construction project drawing workers from across India. DMRC's responsibility not only consists of construction but also of its operation and maintenance. It employs 350 staff in its construction department and 3000 personnel in operation and maintenance. Led by the understated Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, a 77-year-old civil engineer, the subway enjoys strong government support and is not shackled by the delays, cost-overruns and red tape that have plagued big projects in India for decades.

Success Factors:

Project managers usually use 'time and budget' criteria to identify project success often ignoring what factors lead to a successful project. They also do not tend to realize that it is critical to understand what the stakeholders consider as a successful project. A key performance indicator (KPI) is a common term for criteria used to measure the benefits of a project. Delhi Metro system has grabbed the imagination of modern urban developers and planners in India. Several state governments are following the lead and pushing ahead with ambitious projects to ensure inexpensive and efficient transportation system. The success of Delhi Metro Project has triggered off a rush for setting up similar networks across the major cities in India to ease out transportation problems. Delhi Metro is the world's first metro system to be awarded ISO 14001 certificate of environment friendly construction and operation. The mission for Delhi metro is to cover the whole of Delhi with a Metro Network by the year 2021. Other aim for the metro is to be of world class standards in regard to safety, reliability, punctuality, comfort and customer satisfaction. It managed to achieve what it was planned to developed and much more: Saving commuters hours and reduced journey times, annual fee saving, reduction in pollution, road accidents decreased, safe and comfortable travel for passengers. Almost 100% of trains arrive on time at platforms, quite strange in Indian environment. The stations are cool, quiet and there is no vendor operating his unlicensed stall and shouting as seen in almost all stations in India. The success of this project depends on number of factors including cutting multi-layered bureaucracy levels and retaining much authority because the federal and state government have joint control. The decision making process is very fast in metro's administration because there is no political pressure and no unnecessary meddling into the scheme by neither the state government nor the federal government. A previous attempt at a metro in Kolkata ended with less than 20 km of line built in 23 years and 12 times over budget. The failure was blamed on political meddling, technical problems and bureaucratic delays. The other factors that contributed to the overall success of the organisations are: It is being constructed according to world class standards with frontline technologies; It has slim but effective organisation; Ineffective bureaucratic layers eliminated from the organisation; Fast track decision making process; Ample delegation of powers; Accountability with delegation; Punctuality is practiced; High premium for integrity; Aid such as computers, cell phones transport liberally given; International standards of housekeeping at construction sites; International standards in fire safety, quality and finish; Very strict quality audit; General philosophy - success of the project depends upon the success of the contractors; A rigid screening process for inducting staff and officers; Integrity given a high premium in the selection; Training and exposure in the appropriate areas and high level of communication and coordination. For successful project management, Delhi Metro's investigation studies and planning were perfect and changes were needed during the execution of the project. Funds were available at time and Government's essential commitment and support to the project was present. It recognised the importance of PR and legal affair and there was no political interference. The most important factor for the overall success of the Metro was that the leader was correctly chosen and empowered. Sreedharan has attained almost hero-like status. Surveys show he is one of India's most respected figures. The facilities provided by the Metro are modern and easily accessible for disabled passengers. It is probably the only corporation involved with transportation in India that has incorporated accessible design in its facilities. Train doors are automatically shut and open as it is scientific and computer-friendly. Such is the technology employed by the DMRC that there is complete computerisation of all its activities in the operation stage. Human resources, maintenance, stores, accounts and project execution is interlinked and fully computerised to avoid manual delays, heavy documentation and duplication of inter-departmental activities. These are rarely found in any public sector company. Other advanced features include: The trains feature automatic doors, secondary air suspension and brakes controlled by microprocessor. The coaches are designed to possess many advanced features such as CCTV cameras having eight-hour backup, charging points for cell phones and laptops, air-conditioning and heaters during winter. Each train can accommodate about 1,500 people, 240 being seated and maximum speed is 80km/h. Despite practical difficulties, the project is a success. Some other factors contributing to the success of the Metro Rail project are cheap manual labour, good infrastructure of the city, wide roads, and technical expertise of the contractors, sufficient funding, proper planning, and alternate sources of income like real estate lending and advertisement on trains and stations. Passengers travelling by Delhi Metro have been provided by various facilities and services which attract customers and can be considered as a success factor which fosters the success of the project. These are: Smart Cards for frequent commuters, RFID token for single cheap journey and Tourist Card for a short period of time.

Fish-bone diagram showing the most important sucess factors of Delhi Metro Project


The second phase that will cost $4.5 billion and boasts a high-speed airport link beneath the Capital's chaotic roads, is on track for when the city of 16 million hosts the 2010 Commonwealth Games. About 1 million commuters will use metro in year 2010 carrying 8% of city passengers. The project is proving to not only meet the anticipated aim of attracting former road users and reducing road casualties in areas it serves, the Metro is also stimulating economic development in proximity to stations. The success of Delhi Metro is thought to have inspired greater support for mass transit systems. India has many projects now in the planning stage or under construction. With confidence in the completion of Phase 2 being on schedule or earlier, Delhi Metro seems likely to reach a master plan target of 413km including all the phases by 2021. All the above mentioned factors combine to give an idea that the DMRC project is an outstanding success in all aspects such as social, economic, environmental, etc.

Source: Essay UK -

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