23 Feb : The Capital will join a select few cities in the world to have a high-speed link to the airport with Delhi Metro’s most sensitive line likely to start commercial operations from Wednesday, finally bringing the IGI airport closer to the city.
If all goes well and CISF completes its deployment process by Monday, the 23-km Airport Metro Express that connects the city’s shopping hub of Connaught Place with the new swanky Terminal-3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport will be opened to the public on Wednesday.
However, a formal inauguration of the high-speed link, the first Metro corridor in the country to come up on the Public-Private-Partnership mode, is likely to take place later with sources indicating that high-profile dignitaries will be invited for the function.
Both Delhi Airport Metro Express Private Limited (DAMEPL) — the Reliance Infra-led consortium that will run the corridor– and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said they are hopeful that the Line will be beginning operations on Wednesday with four operational stations New Delhi, Shivaji Stadium, IGI Airport and Dwarka Sec-21.
“We are hopeful that the Line will be operational from 23rd February. The CISF deployment is likely to be over anytime now. So in all probability the commercial operations will begin on Wednesday,” a DAMEPL source said.
Other two stations Dhaula Kuan and Delhi Aero City are expected to be ready by the time the formal inauguration takes place, the sources said.
With this, Delhi will join world cities like London, Hong Kong, Seoul and Kuala Lumpur to have a high-speed link connecting the city with the International Airport.
The Delhi Airport Line was completed in a record 27 months’ time.
Sources in the CISF said the deployment of its forces on the high-speed corridor has been fast-tracked and it is likely to be over in a day or two.
“We usually take two to three weeks to complete our deployment. So, it should be over in a day or two,” the sources said.
When the commercial operations start on Wednesday, passengers will not be able to check-in their baggage at the stations as talks with Air India and other private airlines are still on.
Sources said the facility will be available by the time the formal inauguration takes place, possibly in March.
The Airport Metro promises take commuters from New Delhi to the IGI Airport in just 18 minutes in a plush environment.
Trains on the Line are completely different from the existing Metro coaches and have been procured from CAF Spain, the firm which supplied trains to Heathrow and Hong Kong Metro Express Lines.
Passengers will be able to check the flight status at all stations on the Airport Metro Line and will have comfortable seating arrangements on the train.
This will also be the first line in the country to be mapped on Geographic Information System to enhance safety, maintenance and traffic regulation.
Mapping the corridor on GIS will help in mobilising emergency services in case of a blast or fire on the train.
The company has mapped all the emergency services, including fire stations, police stations, hospitals etc along the alignment.
The line has missed several deadlines and is yet to begin commercial operations over a month after the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety (CMRS) gave his nod due to a deadlock over the security issue.
While the Delhi Metro and the Government wanted the CISF to guard the line like any other Metro corridor in the city, the DAMEPL wanted its own private security men to handle the security.
After much deliberation, the Home Ministry handed over the core security of the corridor to the CISF on 4th February and deployment of personnel is now in full swing.