Delhi metro rail network could be ready for Games

With the Delhi Commonwealth Games almost ready to begin there’s a possibility that the promised Delhi Metro Airport Express Line may not be fully operating in time to cater for the number of visitors who are expected to visit Delhi for the Games.

When fully operational the new Metro link will start from New Delhi Railway Station (NDRS) stopping at four stations — Shivaji Terminus, Dhaula Kuan, Delhi Aerocity and Indira Gandhi International Airport — before reaching its destination at Dwarka sector 21.  The trains should travel at 135 kilometres per hour, which is much faster than the 80kph that is the maximum speed on the other Metro lines, and the trip into the city from the airport should take 20 minutes.

The problem is that testing on the line has only just begun, and there is some debate as to which day the line will open.  Even if it does open before the Commonwealth Games on the 4th October, the line will not be running at full capacity, so many visitors will possibly have to find other ways to get from the airport to the city.  You would expect that if major infrastructure was being built to service an important international event that it would be tested and ready in plenty of time to cope with the expected crowds, but in India that is apparently not the case.

It has been announced that when the line does open it won’t run for 24-hours per day, as originally intended, and trains will run every 10 minutes, instead of every 3 to 4 minutes, as was originally envisaged.

Given that most countries wish to make a good impression on visitors when first they arrive in a country, and that one way of achieving that is to have an efficient transport system to get them into the city, it is surprising that more urgency wasn’t given to having the Delhi Airport Metro Express tried, tested and finished well before the influx of visitors arrives.

But then again, I guess that’s one of the charms of visiting India; it’s a wildly busy, hectic, confusing and utterly disorganised place which assaults every one of your senses, and which either captivates you or turns you off India for good.

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