NEW DELHI: Safety concerns arising from the prospect of operating two technology-dependent transport systems at close proximity to each other has, yet again, threatened to derail Chennai’s metro rail construction near the city’s airport. The DRDO may now be called in to service to put doubts to rest.
The Airports Authority of India has rubbished a study by IIT-Madras and German engineering firm Siemens, that claims there is no significant safety hazard from having the rail run close to the runway. AAI officials in Delhi say a study by DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) is on the cards to clear the air.
After many tough negotiations between the AAI, CMRL (Chennai Metro Rail Limited) and stakeholders like airline companies, the AAI had commissioned the study to examine certain technical implications. Airlines were not convinced that simply covering the partially underground rail line with a sheet of appropriate material would neutralise safety issues. The task of the study was analyse if electro magnetic induction from the rail’s traction line could affect aircraft landing and take-off. While the impact of the slip-stream effect was studied on Runway 30, it could not be done on Runways 07 and 25, despite which the IITM-Siemens report was submitted, saying the hazards were negligible.
This claim has now been contested. Stakeholders representing the airport, at a meeting, contested the report saying it failed to cover many aspects.
“The Chennai operators are saying that the study has not been done on both runways and that they were not conducted for all kind of aircraft. They also rejected similar studies done by DRDO in Bangalore. So, a new study may be commissioned with DRDO for the Chennai runway to convince these people,” a Delhi based AAI official said.
The Chennai Metro Rail officials are now a harassed lot. Not only is the metro rail project getting stalled, but their managers are now having to shuttle between Delhi and Chennai to finalise the approval. “Chennai-based officials have washed their hands off the issue and sent all reports to Delhi saying policy-level changes are required.
Now final discussions will be concluded here,” an official said.
“Many situations need to be simulated to ensure these operations are fool-proof.
The studies are now based on double-engine performance, and moreover a field expert like an aircraft engineer needs to do a study of this kind,” said a pilot privy to the meetings. CMRL officials are now hoping that with matters in Delhi headquarters, there will be some light at the end of the tunnel.