You must have come across experts – and non-experts – waxing eloquent on whether the Delhi metro indeed should have reserved coaches for the elite who can pay higher. This is after the Supreme Court recently suggested this in the wake of the ongoing odd-even cars trial in Delhi.

But one has to stand up and take notice when the man credited for building this world-class infrastructure himself offers an opinion. Well, E Sreedharan, the Metro Man, has junked the idea. He has told a paper, “I personally do not recommend any privileged treatment to any particular class of passengers except ladies.”

Sreedharan, who served as the managing director of the Delhi Metro between 1995 and 2012, even finds the idea logistically difficult. “Metro trains are not like long distance trains. The average time a passenger spends in a metro train is only about 25 minutes. If separate accommodation is provided for an elite class, more facilities will have to be provided such as only seated accommodation. This would reduce the capacity of the train at the cost of ordinary passengers.”

Why we should listen to him

The 83-year-old civil engineer from Kerala is credited with building some of the largest infra projects in India including Konkan Railways, and received the Lifetime Achievement Governance Award in 2013.

Among his many achievements was a task to repair the cyclone-damaged Pamban Bridge in Tamil Nadu in 1963, which he carried out in just 46 days! He also took just seven years to build a 760-km stretch across Western Ghats with 150 bridges ad 92 tunnels for the Konkan Railway.

Not politically correct

Not surprisingly, he has had to deal with a whole lot of interference from politicians all his life. But, Sreedharan has seldom shied away from offering his learned opinions on projects. Last year, as adviser to Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation, he criticised the project’s poor planning and cost and time over-runs. 

In 2008, he expressed his criticism of the Hyerabad Metro, for which he invited considerable ire of the government.

Five years into the Delhi metro, he almost quit the Delhi metro project following an ugly spat with the government. This was because he wanted to follow the global practice of standard gauge coaches instead of broad gauge which the ministry wanted.

(All images are from PTI)