Thursday, May 23, 2013

Delhi Airport to New Delhi connectivity via metro - AirportExpress Metro Line

I recently had to hop step and jump across airports and railway stations to travel from Pune to Ludhiana.  My travel arrangements were thus - Catch a flight from Pune to Delhi. Reach Old Delhi Railway station. Catch the train to Ludhiana.

The first obvious choice that came to my mind was to book a call taxi/radio cab in advance because  -
1) I dint want to fumble around at the airport's arrivals lounge.
2) Plus I had never travelled to the Delhi airport in the span of my independent-life travels.
3) And adding to this list of unknowns was the fact that T3 was a relatively new terminal and the relatives network wasnt quite sure of any tips to give me.
4) And I had exactly 90 minutes time between the plane's landing time and the train's departure time. So I needed a conveyance that would be delay-proof

My own itinerary sounded like a simplified version of Phileas Fogg's (of around the world in 90 80 days fame) itinerary.

As I sat thinking about which taxis to book, or what to look for even on google, it struck me that I should check out the metro line and see if it was functional.  The website mentioned a bunch of details about routes, pricing etc, but dint mention when the service started functioning, or whether it was currently functional at all. And even though the website mentions train timings et al, knowing our Indian style of updating websites, I was not thoroughly sure that I could avail this facility.

A few tweets later, I got 70% percent confidence on this plan of using the metro and decided to stick to this plan.

The Actuals :-
@Delhi Airport T3 -
the flight landed on time. I wanted to quickly pickup my baggage, and rush out, but had to walk quite a bit to the luggage belt. No sign boards for Metro line inside the building. Few enquiries later, Found the ticket vending machine just before the exit door of the T3 building and then I was walking down a subway leading to the "Metro Station".
It travels from Airport to the New Delhi Station with a few stops in between which are outer suburbs of a fast expanding Delhi. But you need to travel to New Delhi station to get to any other place, as thats only station that is at the junction of other lines.

 The Metro Station has a token system, you get a plastic coin token as a ticket, you put the token in and the gate opens and closes fast enough to not let the guy behind you pass through. :)
Currently the Airport T3 metro station, and that line in general is new, so the station building is still clean and smell free. And I formed the opinion that finally there is one thing that is getting maintained properly.

@Inside the Train
You get "Mind the gap" audio announcements in every station. And station name announcements in Hindi and English. Also there is a rack where one can keep your suitcases and sit without lugging them around.
When I went(around 10.45-11.00 AM),the train was sparsely populated so it was fine, but I doubt if the racks are of enough capacity to hold suitcases if the train were to get say even 60-70% full.  But the few people present were dutifully using the amenity, including yours truly.

@Transit At New Delhi Station
I had to get to the old Delhi station to catch a train to Punjab. So I got down at the New Delhi (this is part of airport express)station and went to the Metro side of the same building. And the ticket and the queue for the ticket to the other Metro lines is situated on the Delhi Metro sideof the station.The Delhi Metro side of the same station is on the other side of the same building, but they make you climb up and down multiple stairs, with neither ramps, nor lifts nor escalators available. I was carrying a 13Kgs weighing suitcase (regular VIP skybag suitcase) with me, and by the time I reached the queue I was sort of tired. Walking around is ok, but carrying a luggage up and down 4 to 5 stairs is really tough.
And the Delhi Metro side of the same building(on account of being in use for much longer) was like any other railway station. Smelling of paan spit, and generally brimming with crowd, I finally felt I was back in India. Till then, it was a truly international experience.

I took the train to Jahangirpur and got down at Chandni chowk station. And a couple of more stairs up and down and up and down, I got out of the building to find myself in the portico of the Old Delhi Station. I thanked my stars and the Delhi Metro engineers for designing it that way. Atleast they dint make me cross an entire main road, which I would have to do in Chennai, if I took the otherwise very convenient MRTS to reach the Chennai Central Station.

That is the summary of my Delhi Metro Experience.
Hope this helps someone who is in need of this info.

So long.