The Delhi Metro is not only a lifeline for the national capital’s residents but also an engineering marvel that has transformed how people commute in the city. From its humble beginnings in 2002, when it first began operations on a single line, the Delhi Metro has grown into a vast network of 10 lines spanning ~350 kilometres and serving millions of passengers daily.
In perspective, if all the Delhi Metro’s tracks were laid end-to-end, they would stretch from Delhi to Mumbai and back again! And with an impressive punctuality rate of over 99%, it’s no wonder the Delhi Metro has become the go-to mode of transportation for millions of Delhiites. This mass rapid transit system has become one of the country’s most reliable, efficient and widespread public transport systems. But behind this impressive growth lies the tireless work of countless individuals, including the unsung heroes who operate the trains – the Delhi Metro pilots.
But what is it like to be a Delhi Metro pilot, responsible for safely navigating thousands of passengers through the bustling city daily? These skilled professionals are responsible for driving the trains, keeping the system running like clockwork, navigating complex routes and ensuring the safety of passengers at all times. But being a Delhi Metro pilot is not just about driving a train – it requires a high level of technical expertise, attention to detail, and the ability to remain calm under pressure.
So buckle up and get ready for a ride through the world of one of the most vital professions in Delhi’s bustling transportation scene as we take a closer look at the fascinating world of Delhi Metro pilots through one such pilot who works hard at his job.
What inspired you to take up this profession?
I grew up in a small town in Jharkhand with limited resources at our disposal. My father’s job as a constable in the local police station in Dhanbad, while not flashy or glamorous, inspired me to seek a profession where I could serve the country’s citizens while also being well-respected in the community. Needless to say, my father’s dedication to his profession left a lasting impression on me. From an early age, I knew I wanted to pursue a profession that would allow me to serve the public while growing intellectually.
As I started to learn more about the world, I became fascinated with the idea of Metro trains and the impact they could have on urban transportation. I knew I wanted to be a part of this innovative and dynamic field and that engineering was the path to get there.
My decision to pursue this career was multifaceted – its earning potential, my deep desire to contribute to my country, be respected in my community like my father, and have job security. For me, working in the Metro department was never just a job. It was always a calling.
What was it like training to be a Delhi Metro pilot?
Training to become a Delhi Metro pilot was one of my life’s most challenging and rewarding experiences. First, I had to undergo a series of tests and evaluations to be selected as a train operator.
I remember my first day at the Delhi Metro Rail Academy like yesterday. It was a graded and comprehensive process, including classroom sessions, computer-based training, and hands-on practice on simulators and trains. The intensive training covered all aspects of train driving in different circumstances. We learned about rolling stock, signalling systems, track infrastructure, emergency services rules and procedures, and much more. The academy itself had state-of-the-art advanced simulators and training infrastructure.
But it wasn’t all work and no play. The academy had an auditorium, meditation hall, and a gym, allowing us to unwind after a long training day. After completing the academy training, we underwent on-the-job training, which included driving on a test track, learning train routes at the mainline and depot, and train driving in revenue hours under the supervision of a driving supervisor so we could put our training into practice.
I’d be lying if I said the training was easy. But then it was exhilarating too. We were also trained to handle emergencies such as firefighting and passenger evacuation, which was the most difficult for me.
All the hard work paid off when I finally earned the competency to operate a train. It was incredible knowing I had accomplished something so demanding and worthwhile. And now, as a Delhi Metro pilot, I take pride in providing a safe and comfortable journey to all my passengers.
What is your typical day like as a Delhi Metro pilot?
As a Delhi Metro pilot, my typical day starts early in the morning. I arrive at the depot and check my train, ensuring everything is in order. Once my train is ready, I receive my duty chart for the day, which outlines my train’s route, schedule, and other essential details. Then, I begin my shift, driving the train from one station to another, ensuring I’m always on time.
Throughout the day, I communicate with the control centre to keep track of any changes in the train’s schedule, route, or other relevant information. In any emergencies, such as medical or technical failures, I follow the protocols and procedures I was trained for. However, experiencing such a situation in person is always dynamic. At the end of my shift, I return to the depot, where I hand over the train to the next pilot and conduct a thorough inspection to ensure it’s ready for the next day’s operations.
What are the challenges you face in this profession?
My routine is anything but a typical 9 to 5. It’s a fast-paced and often hectic routine. Therefore, balancing the job’s demands with my personal life can be problematic.
Also, as a public servant, I know there’s no room for error because even the slightest mistake can be magnified and broadcast on national television or social media within minutes.
Despite all such challenges, I take immense pride in knowing that my work plays a critical role in the daily routines of so many people. The satisfaction of knowing that I am helping millions of individuals meet their commitments far outweighs any stress or road-blocks that come my way.
What is the aspect of your job that you dislike the most?
As a Delhi Metro pilot, the aspect of my job I dislike the most is dealing with suicide attempts on rail tracks. It’s not something anyone can prepare for, and it’s emotionally draining for everyone involved. It’s an unfortunate reality that we have to face in our line of work, and it’s a situation that we take very seriously.
We have been trained to handle such situations with utmost care and sensitivity. We have a standard operating procedure that we follow in such cases. The first and most obvious thing to do is to stop the train immediately to prevent the accident. The station team also remains alert for such incidents.
We have to work with emergency services, including police and medical teams, to ensure that the situation is handled as safely and efficiently as possible, keeping in mind that there is a schedule that other passengers rely on for their daily routines. Therefore, as soon as other law enforcement agencies take over, we resume our operations.
Even though we have to maintain our composure and professionalism to ensure that the incident is resolved as quickly and smoothly as possible, this is still the most difficult part of our job. Still, it’s just something that we have to face head-on. We must be prepared for the unexpected and work together to handle such challenging situations.
What is the one thing you would want to tell/ask your passengers?
The doors will open on the left. Please mind the gap! (Laughs)
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