A little over 10 days left for the Commonwealth Games to begin, work is going on at a frenzied pace on the upcoming Airport Express Link. The high speed metro line has to be commissioned before the grand opening of the Games on October 3.
With the trail runs already on, the focus is now shifting to the mandatory inspection of the line by the Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety. Also, the fare fixation and the setting up of airline counters at the stations are two other issues that still need to be addressed.
According to sources, the CMRS R.K. Kadam will be invited to carry out the inspection of the high speed line by the end of this week. “Dates are yet to be confirmed, but we are looking at September 24-25 for the inspection to be carried out,” said sources.
Trail runs on the section have been carried out at a speed of 135 km an hour, though the train speed will remain at 120 km an hour. The trials were conducted by the Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO), a Ministry of Railways undertaking.
The line can become operation once the CMRC gives the clearance. “All work on the line complete, trial runs between Dwarka and Shivaji Stadium has been carried out. Minor works including finishing touches to the stations are being carried out,” said an official working on the section.
Referring to the delay in the fixing of fares for the line, the official said: “There is a fare fixation committee that will decide the fare structure along the line. The meeting of this committee is expected soon. As of now we are looking at a maximum fare of Rs.180 for the distance between the New Delhi Station and Dwarka Sector 21 and Rs. 150 between New Delhi station and the Airport. The lowest fare is most likely to be around Rs.30,” said the official.
On the private airlines that had earlier shown reluctance to open their counters at the stations earmarked for allowing commuters to check in, sources said while Air India has already shown interest, talks are on with the private carriers.
“Initially there were some concerns, but Delhi International Airport Limited and the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation have stepped in and we are hopeful that the pending issues will be amicably resolved,” sources told The Hindu. The high speed link that will be run by Reliance Infrastructure, the concessionaire of the line, will allow passengers to reach the airport terminal T3 by being able to check in their baggage and secure their boarding tickets at designated metro stations. Several airlines had expressed concerns over the “high” rent that was decided by the concessionaire for running their check in counters. The three city air terminals have been built at Shivaji Stadium, New Delhi station and Dhaula Kuan station.
“We are hopeful of reaching an agreement soon. The line is the first of its kind in the country, where trains will run at a high speed of 120 km per hour. The line will reduce the commuting time between the New Delhi Station and the airport to just 20 minutes, apart from offering comfortable and easy travelling conditions,” said sources.
According to officials, six train sets have been brought in from Spain for the line and more will be added to the fleet. “Initially we will run between four to six trains on the stretch at an interval of 10-15 minutes, gradually this will be scaled down to 4-5 minutes,” said sources.
The trains for this stretch have been manufactured by CAF, a Spanish company.
The 22.7 km stretch that has 7 km of elevated track and 15.7 km underground section will have stations at New Delhi, Shivaji Stadium, Dhaula Kuan, Delhi Aerocity, IGI Airport and Dwarka Sector 21.