Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Delhi Metro Airport Express


I was almost sure to use Radio Taxi to reach Terminal Three from New Delhi Railway Station, but my friend persuaded me to use newly opened Airport Express. Now, I can’t thank him enough. Here are a few facts before I get into the details:

Starts at 0600 hrs and operates till 2200 hrs (hours likely to be increased)
From: New Delhi  To: Airport Terminal 3
Frequency: 20 minutes
Travel Time: 18 minutes
Inaugural Fare: 80 rupees

You can make direct comparison with Heathrow/Gatwick Express. To be honest, I found it better, because it’s new. Right after I pulled out luggage from Taxi at the New Delhi station, I found a smiling guy waiting with trolley. He charged me 50 rupees and handed over a bill, which came out of his electronic device. No bargaining with coolies anymore.  Now, my job was just to buy a token and walk in to the train, rest was his. Wow! I could see flight information at the metro station displayed on multiple LCD screens too.


Besides the option of buying tokens from the counter, they have installed vending machines for travelers’ convenience.  The assistants were available to help with vending machine. First the machine rejected my hundred rupee note and after I replaced it, it fell short of change. I should not complain as testing was in progress on the third day of operation and the guys were trying their best. The assistant requested me to buy token from the counter. I saw some plastic cards at the counter, upon being asked I came to know those were monthly passes for frequent travelers. The monthly passes are available for 60 one way trips at the price of 1300 rupees.


The station is undoubtedly world class with generous use of glass and steel and a treat to the eyes.  I got in to the brand new train waiting for us. Right next to the door, I found luggage shelves. The seats are front-facing with four seats in a row and aisle at the centre.  All the staff were uniformed, well groomed and properly trained. A plus size person might find the seat cramped, but that is manageable for a twenty minute ride.


The train started dot at 12 pm racing towards Shivaji stadium (the station name for Connaught Place). There were no frequent audio announcements like Delhi Metro which I found logical since Airport Express has very few stoppages.  I could very well see the progress on the LCD Screen and lit up route map. It stopped only at Shivaji Stadium before Airport because other stations are not operational yet. If fully operational, there will be three stations between New Delhi and Airport: 1. Shivaji Stadium 2. Dhaula Kuan  and 3. Delhi Aerocity.


Just a couple of minutes after Shivaji Stadium, it came out of the tunnel and this was the most beautiful view of Delhi, the miles of greenery on both sides of the track. Far away I could see hotel Taj Palace and Maurya. Then, it crossed Dhaula Kuan, Airforce building, Shakar Vihar and again went into the tunnel. Exactly after 18 minutes I was at Delhi Airport Terminal 3 to exit. The running time is 20 minutes, since a few stations are not yet operational, it took 2 minutes less.


I pulled out the luggage, loaded them on a trolley and started pushing towards Terminal 3 gates. The signages are very clear, so I didn’t need anybody’s help. Just after five minutes, I was at the airport gate showing my passport to the security men.


What more could I have asked for?

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