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Offroad manoeuvres

DELHI CITY planners are hoping for a noticeable decrease in road traffic following the opening of Line Two of Delhi's new metro last month.

The Indian capital's astonishing growth rate over recent decades has lead to extremely overcrowded streets, long journey times and severe air pollution.

Cautious estimates say the population has almost tripled since 1981, from 5.7M to about 14.5M. In the same period, the number of motorised vehicles (scooters, cars, buses and rickshaws) rose from 0.54M to more than 5M. Chaotic traffi c conditions cost an average of five lives a day.

Against this background, the national and state governments founded the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to build a 65km long, partially underground, rail network by the end of this year (GE September 2004).

The metro will initially consist of three lines. Lines One (complete) and Three (under construction) are primarily overground, but Line Two needed an 11km tunnel. Part was built in open cut construction, but other areas needed tunnelling machines to pass through soft ground and hard rock. The line, which was finished in two sections, included 10 underground stations.

The extensive concreting was carried out by five truck-mounted pumps and seven stationary trailer units. For the second of the Line Two sections alone, about 250,000m 3 of concrete was required.

Completion of the first three lines of the network is expected to take 2,600 buses off the roads each day and save about 5bn rupees (£66M) worth of fuel a year.

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