People throng stations from early morning for first-day ride

The 14.47-km-long HUDA City Centre-Qutab Minar corridor of the Delhi Metro railway connecting neighbouring Gurgaon with Delhi was thrown open to the public on Monday, ending the long wait of the residents of the millennium city for a world class transport system connecting them to the nation's Capital.

The first metro trains were flagged off by the station controllers at HUDA City Centre in Gurgaon and Qutab Minar in Delhi simultaneously at 8 a.m. The line will be extended to Central Secretariat in New Delhi in a month.

Such was the enthusiasm among the people that commuters were seen gathering at the metro stations as early as 6 a.m. A handful of people and Delhi Metro officials boarded the inaugural trains in the morning, but it was only in the afternoon that people thronged the metro stations in large numbers.

Madan Mohan Singh, who runs a unit of dairy and bakery products, said: “Though I stay in Gurgaon, I often go to Connaught Place in connection with my business. Earlier I used to commute by car, but now I have a better option in the metro. I travelled from HUDA City Centre to Qutab Minar and it took me only 30 minutes. The trains stopped a little longer at the stations today. I hope the time will reduce in the coming days.”

It was almost a godsend for Pawan Kumar who had come for an interview at BSF Camp in Tigri, Delhi. “I came from Rohtak in the morning and was about to board a bus to Tigri when I heard on FM radio about the opening of the corridor. I changed my plan and took a metro. With the weather outside being so harsh, travelling by metro was comfortable.”

As of now, metro trains running on the corridor do not halt at Chhattapur station, which is under construction. “The construction work was delayed as land for building the station was made available only last October,” said a Delhi Metro official.

The Delhi Metro has pressed five trains into service for the present and the number will be increased gradually. The trains will run at a frequency of 12 minutes on this corridor from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The inauguration of the corridor was marred by theft of signalling cables at Qutab Minar station causing slowing down of trains.

Veena Gupta, an elderly woman, said: “I had come for a joyride along with my grandchildren. We took a train at HUDA City Centre and it took us more than 40 minutes to reach Arjan Garh. Ideally it should take only 10-15 minutes. On our return journey, I had to wait for more than 30 minutes for a train to HUDA City Centre. It took away all the joy.”

Though the people welcomed the metro with open arms, they had suggestions to offer. “No doubt it is convenient travelling by metro. But the fare for the shorter distance should be reduced by 20-30 per cent to make it more viable,” said Shivraj Singh Rawat who commutes between HUDA City Centre and Arjan Garh.

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